Safe schools

LLOYD A top school safety expert will join school officials Wednesday for a school safety forum at Greenup County High School.

Kentucky Center for School Safety director Jon Akers will outline safety trends across the state and principals and administrators will discuss measures in the district.

The public forum is a means of keeping parents informed about how schools are handling safety issues now and what steps are coming up, district safe schools coordinator Scarlet Shoemaker said.

“The board is hoping to keep parents in the loop . . . we want to share as much as we can, where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re going,” Shoemaker said.

Information on ongoing steps to address safety doesn’t always make it to parents, Shoemaker said. “We’re just doing our jobs, taking care of business, taking steps to make kids safe.”

Akers will talk about recent state and federal recommendations on school safety, she said. “He is really the leader in the entire state . . . he keeps us up to date on what’s going on and what’s coming up,” she said.

School safety encompasses a wide range of issues, not just shootings, and he will talk about some of them, Akers said.

“Since January 23, school shootings have gotten on everybody’s front burner,” said Akers — a reference to the shooting at Marshall County High School in Western Kentucky in which two people were killed and 14 others wounded by gunfire.

However, educators need to prepare for natural disasters too, also for intruders not bent on killing — estranged parents taking children without permission, for example, he said.

Akers won’t make recommendations specific to Greenup but will talk about issues common to districts across the state — metal detectors, bookbag checks and fire alarm procedures, for example.

He also will take questions from parents.

The forum starts at 5:30 p.m. in the stage area of the high school.

Participating school officials include Shoemaker, school resource officer James Stamper, Eric Kouns with the Kentucky State Police, GCHS principal Jason Smith, Wurtland Middle School principal Amanda Powell, McKell Elementary School principal Aaron Collier an PASS Program coordinator Brad Quillen.

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Mike James is The Independent's education reporter. He has covered news in Northeast Kentucky since 1996.