#schoolsafety | JCPS superintendent talks guns in schools, proposed safety plan

                Safety is always a topic of conversation when it comes to Jefferson County Public Schools. That's why Superintendent Marty Pollio is proposing a new school safety plan."We really, as a community and as a nation, are going to need to dig into the absolute access to guns in our community and our children having access to those guns," Pollio said.There's been record-breaking homicide in the metro in 2021. More than 20 children have been killed this year due to raging gun violence, including 16-year-old JCPS student Tyree Smith at his bus stop. His alleged killers were also teenagers.Supt. Pollio feels the effects of what's happening outside, inside the school walls."We have to ask ourselves, once again, 'How is a sixth-grader, how is an 11 or 12-year-old getting access to a handgun?' Unfortunately, the schools are having to be responsible for this mitigation. I understand, we have to look at the problem with that," Pollio said.Youth violence: Family of slain JCPS student Tyree Smith react to arrests, seeing teenage suspects in courtAccording to data from JCPS, nearly 40 guns were found in schools from 2019-2021.While the numbers aren't necessarily higher compared to previous years, there is still much concern. Pollio says he has looked nationwide for an innovative safety approach, understanding many students don't feel comfortable with armed uniformed officers in schools. His proposal includes school safety administrators."We want them focusing their entire time on safety, security issues, threat assessments, social media has become such a challenge for schools," Pollio said.Savion Briggs is a 2020 graduate of Butler High School. He says he doesn't support school resource officers either."If they put these police officers or school resource officers in our schools, that makes schools unsafe as well. They already over-police our neighborhoods. They over-police our areas, and when they put resource officers into these schools, that makes schools unsafe as well," Briggs said.Continuing coverage: Two JCPS schools offering mentor program aimed at curbing youth crime rate in LouisvilleWhen I asked Briggs about guns in schools, he admitted it wasn't rare to hear of someone bringing one whether they were caught or not."It's been cases where my classmates or peers brought guns to schools, but they didn't bring it to school with the intentions to shoot up a school. You got to think some of the neighborhoods where we are from. It's just some of the things we grow up around, that we come from," Briggs said.In 2022, the school board will prepare to hear public comments on his proposed safety plan which includes the school safety administrators and regional school resource officers who would not be inside schools on a daily basis."Our SROS would be regionally based. Our school safety officers would be regionally based so maybe that officer would have Atherton High School, Highland Middle, Hawthorne, Bloom, just to give an example. Five or six elementary and middle and high in the area that would work that and they would essentially be assigned to those schools," Pollio said.The goal is for school safety administrators to communicate closely with school resource officers when they see a threat that may need the help of an officer. But most importantly, he wants to make sure students and parents are weighing in."We do want this to be a decision that we bring that has been clearly vetted through the community that everyone understands and knows this is where how we're moving forward during difficult times, and we can bring a recommendation to our board. Maybe not everyone fully agreeing, but at least we've heard from the community on it," Pollio said.Pollio says school board members are hoping to return to allowing in-person comment in 2022. He wants to hold virtual comment sessions as well as focus groups to get feedback.
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                <strong class="dateline">LOUISVILLE, Ky. —</strong>                                             <p>Safety is always a topic of conversation when it comes to Jefferson County Public Schools. That's why Superintendent Marty Pollio is proposing a new school safety plan.

“We really, as a community and as a nation, are going to need to dig into the absolute access to guns in our community and our children having access to those guns,” Pollio said.

There’s been record-breaking homicide in the metro in 2021. More than 20 children have been killed this year due to raging gun violence, including 16-year-old JCPS student Tyree Smith at his bus stop. His alleged killers were also teenagers.

Supt. Pollio feels the effects of what’s happening outside, inside the school walls.

“We have to ask ourselves, once again, ‘How is a sixth-grader, how is an 11 or 12-year-old getting access to a handgun?’ Unfortunately, the schools are having to be responsible for this mitigation. I understand, we have to look at the problem with that,” Pollio said.

Youth violence: Family of slain JCPS student Tyree Smith react to arrests, seeing teenage suspects in court

According to data from JCPS, nearly 40 guns were found in schools from 2019-2021.

While the numbers aren’t necessarily higher compared to previous years, there is still much concern. Pollio says he has looked nationwide for an innovative safety approach, understanding many students don’t feel comfortable with armed uniformed officers in schools. His proposal includes school safety administrators.

“We want them focusing their entire time on safety, security issues, threat assessments, social media has become such a challenge for schools,” Pollio said.

Savion Briggs is a 2020 graduate of Butler High School. He says he doesn’t support school resource officers either.

“If they put these police officers or school resource officers in our schools, that makes schools unsafe as well. They already over-police our neighborhoods. They over-police our areas, and when they put resource officers into these schools, that makes schools unsafe as well,” Briggs said.

Continuing coverage: Two JCPS schools offering mentor program aimed at curbing youth crime rate in Louisville

When I asked Briggs about guns in schools, he admitted it wasn’t rare to hear of someone bringing one whether they were caught or not.

“It’s been cases where my classmates or peers brought guns to schools, but they didn’t bring it to school with the intentions to shoot up a school. You got to think some of the neighborhoods where we are from. It’s just some of the things we grow up around, that we come from,” Briggs said.

In 2022, the school board will prepare to hear public comments on his proposed safety plan which includes the school safety administrators and regional school resource officers who would not be inside schools on a daily basis.

“Our SROS would be regionally based. Our school safety officers would be regionally based so maybe that officer would have Atherton High School, Highland Middle, Hawthorne, Bloom, just to give an example. Five or six elementary and middle and high in the area that would work that and they would essentially be assigned to those schools,” Pollio said.

The goal is for school safety administrators to communicate closely with school resource officers when they see a threat that may need the help of an officer. But most importantly, he wants to make sure students and parents are weighing in.

“We do want this to be a decision that we bring that has been clearly vetted through the community that everyone understands and knows this is where how we’re moving forward during difficult times, and we can bring a recommendation to our board. Maybe not everyone fully agreeing, but at least we’ve heard from the community on it,” Pollio said.

Pollio says school board members are hoping to return to allowing in-person comment in 2022. He wants to hold virtual comment sessions as well as focus groups to get feedback.

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