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Parents at HCHS offer ideas for boosting school safety / March 08, 2018
Parents gathered at Halifax County High School Tuesday night to seek assurances that Halifax County is doing all it can to deter the kind of tragedy that befell a Florida high school where 17 people died in a Feb. 14 mass shooting.

The occasion for the dialogue was a community forum on school safety, hosted by school and county officials. The event arose out of a Feb. 20 meeting between law enforcement and school personnel to develop short-term and long-term plans to enhance school safety in Halifax County.

Superintendent of Schools Mark Lineburg set the tone of the evening by telling parents, “The foundation of all we do in public schools rests with the premise of school safety being the most important aspect of what we do. When students share information with school personnel, our reaction will be to investigate, explore, and address concerns.”

Scottsburg Elementary School principal Sherry Cowan and HCHS principal Michael Lewis — representing the county’s elementary and secondary schools — and Halifax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tracy Quackenbush Martin answered questions from the 65-plus parents in attendance.

Taking place in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the Feb. 20 meeting of local educators and law enforcement authorities served a two-fold purpose, said Lineburg: “To look at things that could be done immediately to improve student safety, and what can be done in the long-term.”

Tuesday’s meeting at the high school gave school parents the opportunity to add their input.

Items on the short-list for implementation include:

An anonymous tip-line is being set up;

Perimeter checks will be conducted by law enforcement;

Jay Jennings, director of operations and maintenance, is distributing swipe cards for school access to law enforcement agencies this week;

James Hopkins with the Virginia State Police has lined up state troopers to conduct safety audits of the high school and middle school this summer;

Law enforcement personnel and school staff will begin to review and update the “crisis management plans” for secondary and elementary schools;

The Central Office will provide guidance to principals on conducting threat assessments when a threat is made;

Jennings is actively investigating safety grants to enhance the school division’s efforts;

Central office administrators are evaluating “active-shooter” training options;

A recommendation has been made to increase the county budget to allow for the hiring of one additional school resource officer at both the middle and high school;

Buildings will be barricaded during a lockdown to prevent people from coming on campus.

According to Jeff Davis, director of student services, parent questions and comments during the two-hour meeting focused on teacher preparedness in the case of an emergency, student preparedness to follow the crisis plan, and active-shooter training.

Martin provided information about Virginia criminal statutes that apply to making false or misleading threats against a school, staff and students. As recently articulated by both Lineburg and Lewis, there will be no tolerance for students disrupting school with idle or phony threats in any form. Law enforcement and the school division will punish students who engage in this behavior to the full extent of the law, speakers emphasized

One parent asked a question about arming teachers, but Lineburg explained giving handguns to teachers is not a decision that can be made at the school division level. Instead, he said, such a policy would have to come from law enforcement and state legislators.

Lineburg reiterated the message he wants students, parents, and staff to take to heart — “If you see something, say something.”

Participants from this forum will meet to decide if and when additional community forums will be held.

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Basically what the government is telling you--"you need to give up more freedom because of a criminal act, in the name of safety" I have a real problem with the barricade issue. If I wanted to get my kid out, I should be able to. The school is not a prison and I am sick an tired of the county saying they know what is best for me and my family.


allpolitical2-So your solution to an active threat on a school campus is to allow parents to come onto campus, thus providing more "targets" and more commotion for school personnel and police to monitor and control? When a school is placed on lockdown, if a student is in the office, bathroom, or hallway they are immediately kept in the office or are put into the nearest classroom or secure area. They are not allowed to continue to return to their classroom, for obvious reasons. Thus, when you come to the school, demanding to be let into a locked down building and demanding for your child to be released from the secure location, you are now making the demands to place numerous other people's children at risk, just because you want to remove your child. Yes, I feel that in instances of threats in the school, that school personnel and law enforcement know what is better for your child than you do.


Allpolitical2, you stay about half-cocked all the time!!! When you going to put up and run for election! We need a real level head like yours!!! Lol


Allpolitical2, if you don't want to adhere by the school system's policy, or as you like to call it "county telling me what's best for my children", then don't send your children to county's that simple...parents like you are the biggest problem to the schools.

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