BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – In the wake of multiple school shootings that unfolded across the nation during 2022, parents are concerned about school safety.
Locally, officials are also making school safety a priority.
This was illustrated Tuesday, October 4 as both the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and the Department of Education reviewed the findings from a report on school safety at a special committee meeting at the Louisiana State Capitol Tuesday.
Dr. Cade Brumley, the Louisiana State Superintendent of Education, said there are several ways to keep children safe.
According to Brumley, the primary way is to implement the adage, ‘If you see something, say something.’
He then explained that Louisiana’s educational leaders have been working with local law enforcement agencies and their partners to give schools easier access to assistance from authorities during potentially threatening situations.
Brumley said, “That’s why we were really pleased over the last couple of months to work with crime stoppers and the state police to try to get more of our school systems on board with the crime stoppers app.”
Last fall, at the end of the school year, nine school systems were utilizing the “Crime Stoppers Safe School Louisiana Say it Here” app. But as of this fall, that number has increased to 40 school systems.
This app is not the only tech officials are using.
Casey Tingle, the director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP), said the RAVE panic button is an app that’s paid for by the Louisiana State Police, which makes it free of charge to schools through 2024.
Tingle said, “It allows an alternative way of making a 9-1-1 call from the classroom utilizing that app and allows first responders to be able to interact with that information.”
Dr. Brumley added that another key element in ensuring the protection of individuals on school grounds is the implementation of improved security.
“We are receiving over $20 million as a part of the bi-partisan Safe For Schools Act,” Brumley said. “I am hopeful that we can use it in these areas of facilities and access control and locking systems.”
Mental health for both students and faculty is also a top priority for both departments.
“Over a three-year period we are using stimulus dollars from the federal government to expand the reach of social workers and counselors across the state and we are investing more than $60 million,” Dr. Brumley said.
The Department of Education is also providing free telehealth visits for educators.
Interim Assistant Superintendent of Career and College Readiness Dr. Ernise Singleton reviewed other key findings from their report on Louisiana schools.
The Department conducted a brief survey of all schools in Louisiana related to crisis management and response planning in schools and school systems.
- 93% of systems responding to the survey have a person primarily responsible for emergency operations.
- 99% of schools have an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP)
- 90% of schools reviewed and/or revised their EOP in the 2021-2022 school year.
- 84% of school systems reported that school EOP plans were developed jointly with law enforcement, fire, public safety and emergency preparedness officials.
- 75% of systems responding to the survey reported that schools conducted active shooter drills during the 2021-22 school year.
- 47% of schools employ at least one school resource officer.
“We had forty-seven percent of those schools tell us that they had a school resource officer and we know based off what Mr. Tingle said that there is funding out there for school resource officers and there is likely going to be additional numbers,” Dr. Singleton said.
Officials feel the measures listed above will be of great benefit to local schools.