Jonesboro School Beefs Up Safety, Speaks Against Arming Teachers
Westside E.A.S.T. facilitator Brooke Chapman is on the fence about President Trump's proposition to pass legislation allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons in classrooms. Her focus is in being proactive, rather than reactive.
"The most important thing is that we know our students," says Chapman. "And [that] we are diligent in learning about our students, and if they have an issue. And reporting it to someone that can get them the proper help. I think if we do that, then we're not going to need to take the step of arming our teachers."
The Westside School District has made many changes to its safety policy following the 1998 Westside Middle School shooting. Westside security director Ryan Tolbert says they are changing with the times. Armed student resource officers are stationed at Westside High, Middle and Elementary school. According to Tolbert, Westside student resource officers can de-escalate crises, in two minutes or less.
"We do pretty significant training in active shooter. We do firearm training, and defensive tactics." states Tolbert ."If someone's thinking about getting out of line, maybe a parent, or a student -- they see your presence, and maybe they decide not to do that."
Following the Stoneman Douglas High School, Westside educators discussed the best ways that they can keep students safe during mass shooter attacks. Chapman believes better relationships between students and teachers is a start. Westside teachers are now offering group counseling sessions for students during lunch periods.
"They're also giving them specific topics, like how to deal with anxiety, and things like that. That students haven't gotten in the past." adds Chapman, "We have over seven-hundred students in our building, and two counselors. And that can be an issue."
Westside SROs will continue working with teachers to improve escape plans, and ways to fight armed threats, with our without weapons. Officer Tolbert is extending the training to neighboring school districts.