FALLS CHURCH, Va. - What to do about school security has been hotly debated in Fairfax County since the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
After several months of internal review, Fairfax County Public Schools' Office of Safety and Security came up with 28 pages of recommendations, which include in part:
- More active shooter drills and emergency training for both students and teachers
- Eliminating points of vulnerability, such as someone "piggybacking" on someone else entering the building
- Requiring all classroom doors to be locked at all times and replacing interior key door locks with push-button ones to make locking from the inside easier in the event of a threat
- Installing security cameras throughout each school campus district-wide
- Hiring 18 more school-based psychologists or social workers to be added to all middle schools and targeted elementary schools
Metal detectors and more armed school resource officers (SROs) are not recommendations being put forth at this time.
All high schools and some middle schools already have armed officers. When this discussion first started in February, school board member Elizabeth Schultz pushed to discuss exploring the possibility of adding SROs to middle and elementary schools as well as administration offices.
"You can see that with what happened at the Capital Gazette, it's not just a school issue," said Schultz. "It is a comprehensive security issue. So how do we keep schools and our administrative facilities secure? We just haven't given ourselves the time [to determine that]. The initial recommendations include hiring 28 people, and none of them are a safety and security personnel. None of them are an additional school resource officer."
Schultz is hoping for more work sessions to continue to the discussion. In the meantime, the public will get to weigh in on the initial recommendations Thursday at Fairfax County Public Schools board meeting at Luther Jackson Middle School in Falls Church.
If more than 25 people have signed up to speak, the board will allow more public comment on July 17.
On July 26, board members plan to vote on whether or not they will use some of their end of year funding to hire some of the people recommended in the proposal.