Discussion an important step toward school safety

A public forum about school safety at Spain Park High School on Tuesday, March 6, was an important step toward ensuring that local schools can avoid the types of tragedies that have been realized at too many locations across the country.

The meeting was one of two—along with another at Hoover High School on March 8—hosted by Hoover City Schools and intended to give residents an opportunity to voice concerns or offer ideas about school safety.

A panel that addressed an audience of stakeholders from across the community was composed of Hoover City Schools Superintendent Kathy Murphy, Police Chief Nick Derzis, Fire Chief Clay Bentley, Mayor Frank Brocato, City Councilman Derrick Murphy, Board of Education President Earl Cooper, National Association of School Resource Officers Director of Operations Mac Hardy, Christine Hoffman representing HCS parent-teacher organizations and HCS Foundation Executive Director Janet Turner.

At the beginning of the event, Kathy Murphy highlighted ongoing school safety efforts across the district.

Hoover employs 11 full-time school resource officers, 13 reserve officers serving as SROs, two full-time sergeants in supervisory roles and four additional full-time Hoover Police Department positions to offer coverage of each school in the district at all times. Each school also performs required drills, annual training, annual reviews and other drills.

Students, parents and community stakeholders were also given the opportunity to address the panel about their concerns and ideas, and many did. Some thoughts were shared that school officials will undoubtedly find beneficial and possibly even incorporate into policies.

Questions and suggestions included steps to control traffic around schools, requiring students to wear identification badges, items such as blackout shades that could enhance safety in classrooms during a lockdown, how officials can intervene when a student is troubled, metal detectors, the number of SROs in schools and treatment of children with special needs.

As noted during the forum, Hoover City Schools has been recognized locally and nationally for its safety precautions—the National Association of School Resource Officers even calls Hoover home—but further considering how schools might be made safer will never be regretted.

Stephen Dawkins is a staff writer for the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 524 or by email at stephen.dawkins@shelbycountyreporter.com.