School officials attend national safety conference


LUMBERTON — School Resource Officer Denise Ward spends her days overseeing the safety of children at Fairmont and Orrum Middle School. This summer Ward joined two dozen school resource officers, principals, assistant principals and school safety staff at the 2014 National School Safety Conference Program.

“I feel good about the safety plan we have at both of my schools because several of the things the conference presenters discussed, we have already implemented,” Ward said. “We have the support of our local officers and deputies, who assist us to evaluate the schools. We have added numbers above our classroom doors to better assist law enforcement if we needed their backup.”

At the conference, safety experts and officers from across the nation share the latest information on school safety. The specialists analyze how school districts coordinate their school safety.
One key point the conference impressed on the officers is that “everyone is in charge of school safety” at a school, including teachers, cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, parent liaisons and the entire faculty.
Lumberton High School’s Robby Pittman serves on the National School Safety Advocacy Council. He was appointed in February 2014. Pittman is the assistant athletic director at Lumberton High, but he also assists with student safety issues and school safety training. Pittman began attending the National School Safety Conference more than a decade ago.

“The National School Safety Advocacy Council helps brings you up to date on safety and anti-bullying efforts in schools around the nation,” Pittman said. “Our local law enforcement agencies do train in the summer time for school lockdowns or emergencies. This helps us to be prepared for any situation, which can range from bomb threats, fire or lockdowns.”
Public Schools of Robeson County officers attended sessions that looked at real life situations from ripped from the headlines, such as the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Other sessions touched on promoting positive discipline, cyber bullying, understanding the teen brain and the dark side of technology.

Resource Officer Brenda Whitmire oversees safety at Parkton and Rex Rennert schools. This was her first safety conference. Whitmire says the conference highlighted the importance of consistency for school officers across the district.
“We need to make sure that we all have the same critical incident report and we are all using the same system so that any law enforcement agency can go into any school and we are all on the same page,” she said. “It will make a difference to use the same lockdown procedures or any type of situation from a bomb threats to weather emergencies.”