House and Senate education committees explore ways to make schools safer

03/01/2018 04:52 PM

FRANKFORT – Adults, students and community connectedness are the keys to keeping a safe school environment, according to a national expert on the subject.

William Modzeleski, a school safety consultant, appeared for a joint meeting of the House and Senate Standing Committees on Education on Thursday.

Modzeleski told members there are a number of ideas which include things like metal detectors and security cameras, but says the number one key to keeping a safe environment is a coming together of adults and students.

“If we are going to have safe environments for learning, we need to improve the connectedness between youth and adults,” Modzeleski said. “We need to build those relationships. Relationships of trust, relationships of understanding, relationships of hey, we’ve got you.”

In the February 14, school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, a fire alarm was pulled right before the shooting began.

Rep. John “Bam” Carney, R-Campbellsville, asked Kentucky Center For School Safety Executive Director Jon Akers about the possibility of Kentucky schools adopting a safe procedure concerning fire alarms in the future — to avoid what happened in Florida.

Another concern addressed by Akers is the general lack of respect for life that some young people have in this era of violent video games.

“With the violence that we see 24/7, on TV, in the movie houses, video games, things like this, kids are being desensitized, bang, bang, bang, okay I hit reset and we start all over again and I’m ready to go now,” Akers said. “It doesn’t happen in real life.”

Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, questioned Modzeleski about the idea of arming faculty and staff at schools with firearms.

An idea the school safety consultant disagreed with.

Marshall County Schools Superintendent Trent Lovett was in attendance and said that even after hearing what was expressed at the meeting, he still doesn’t believe that there was anything that his district could have done differently to avoid the tragedy in which 2 students were killed at Marshall County High on January 23.

“I don’t think there’s anything that I heard today would have made a difference,” Lovett said.

Lovett said the community is recovering slowly, but admits it’s going to take a long time.

“We’ll take 2 steps forward and then sometimes something will come a long like the incident in Florida and we take a back step,” Lovett said. “The one month anniversary was a day we took a step back a little bit, but they are healing. The community has been very supportive.”

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