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Campbell County Schools, Sheriff’s Dept., revisit safety in wake of Conn. shooting

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By Beth Braden

School resource officers are present at the county’s elementary schools after a Dec. 14 shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.

“We know now it’s not just a middle school/high school issue,” said Campbell County Director of Schools Donnie Poston.

Beginning Monday, Campbell County Sheriff Robbie Goins posted extra officers at all schools without a designated school resource officer.

“It is not easy after what happened in Connecticut for parents to drop their children off at school. We want parents to feel as comfortable as possible when they are leaving their children at Campbell County Schools,” Goins said.

Poston had already wanted to expand the school resource officer program, and the sheriff’s department had been approached about placing an officer at the alternative school.

All safety policies will now be revisited.

“The only thing about it is we’ve been through a tragedy, and God forbid the same thing that happened in Connecticut would happen here, but we’ve got a lot of copy cat people throughout this nation that for whatever reason could very well bring that type of tragedy back into our own little peaceful community,” Poston said.

The tragedy he referenced was the 2005 shooting at Campbell County High School that left one person dead and two wounded.

“We’re going to revisit every single thing we’ve got in the manual right now,” Poston said.

Poston sent out a letter on Tuesday asking Campbell County families to be more cognizant of the way they communicate.

“I beg all of our parents, educators, politicians and leaders to ‘ratchet-down’ our level of negative verbal exchanges especially where the youngest among us have such impressionable minds,” the letter said.

The shooting has not gone unnoticed by the Tennessee Department of Education. On Tuesday, the department released a listing of statewide school safety guidelines.

The Schools Against Violence in Education (SAVE) Act requires each school district to review and update their system’s safety plans with the state. Each district is responsible for maintaining visitor screening procedures, weapons reporting and bullying policies.

The Safe Schools Act of 1998 allots funding for school safety enhancements such as SRO funding, violence prevention training and other security enhancement.

There is a school safety institute for each district’s personnel.

A collaboration between Vanderbilt University and the education department, Tennessee Schools Prepare, supports schools in development of crisis response.

Additionally, there will be a safety summit hosted by Williamson County Schools in late January to discuss training and implementation of safety measures in schools.

Poston expects more guidelines could be put into place.

“I feel like there’ll be some additional federal mandates on how we deal with school security,” he said.