"Always room for improvement" of safety at Joplin schools - KOAM TV 7

"Always room for improvement" of safety at Joplin schools

Joplin, MO -

"Always room for improvement" is a phrase you might commonly see used on report cards or other academic reports.  The Joplin School District is using that saying on itself.  School district workers say the majority of parents are happy with safety and security measures at schools.  But district workers are trying to be proactive.

Joplin School District officials have been researching.

"The audit, we initiated this year," says Secondary Education Director Jason Cravens.

There's also been some show and tell.

Cravens says, "We talked to city officials, emergency management officials, saying, how do we do this?"

The process so far has helped Cravens and other district workers answer one question that may seem deceptively simple:  How can safety at schools be improved?  As Cravens mentioned earlier, the district is auditing itself for how many safety measures are put to use.

One parent we talked to says there are different types of safety.  "Absolutely," says Teena Schulik.  "Kids paying attention, they're always on their phones.  They don't watch where they're going.  The way they dress.  They don't seem to have a whole lot of respect anymore for adult figures."

Part of safety is psychology, and a difference of opinion over what matters.

"There are a lot of different types of safety checks out there.  Different states or organizations may have different checks," says Cravens.

The good news is district officials believe there are no extensive safety changes immediately needed.  There are cracks in the system, though.  At Joplin's high school, a visitor's drivers license is scanned, and their drivers license picture is put on a school visitor badge.  

But at other schools, where visitor's badges are more generic...

"You want to make sure you have access and the visitor does not have access to the badges," says Cravens.

Cravens says you may also want to make sure there are enough signs pointing visitors in the right direction, and enough intercom speakers so that people in every room---including the restrooms---can hear about emergencies, like severe weather.

Parents have other ideas, too, like arming teachers with guns.

"Because whoever is going to come in is going to be armed," says one parent.

A school safety board of parents, students, and school resource officers is being put together right now.  Cravens hopes the new safety committee is organized by March.


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