School safety

Wilson County Schools has a buzz-in system for anyone trying to enter any school within the system.

Wilson County Schools has implemented a safety system in schools that included cameras in the schools “for over 20 years,” according to WCS Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hall.

The school system already has a procedure for a buzz-in style of system to enter a school and another for scanning a person’s ID to see if they can enter the school, based on state records.

According to Hall, “we have lock down drills with our staff per state law.” He wouldn’t expound on that statement or give detailed information about school safety measures within each school.

Hall did, in an earlier email, note that there are cameras in classrooms at Springdale Elementary and Gladeville Middle, and will be installed in the classrooms at new Green Hill High School.

Springdale opened in August 2017 and Gladeville opened this summer. Green Hill High School is expected to open in August 2020.

State law says that school systems “are allowed to use security devices such as cameras and locks on the outside doors or security procedures that have been adopted by the school board.”

When details about WCS safety measures were requested, Hall stated that, “we do not discussed details our crisis management plan which includes our school cameras.”

He added that the school administrators have access to the cameras for their school.

On the Wilson County Schools website, the school system describes its safety and emergency management overview. The page gives information on the WCS Director of Safety Director Stephen Spencer. It also lays out the school system’s measures for security in the schools.

WCS’ committee meets on a regular basis throughout the school year to write, modify, or update the (WCS) ‘emergency operations plan,’ the site said.

Each school has trained individuals making up a “crisis management team.” The site said that the district’s “crisis management team” is ready at all times to activate, respond, and support the local crisis team and emergency responders.”

In 2015, WCS and the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office joined together to put SROs, who are WCSO deputies, in each school. It was later amended to put two SROs in the high schools, according to Scott Moore, spokesman for the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office.

Each SRO costs the county $46,987.20, with that cost being paid by the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office.

When new security measures were put in place a few years ago, WCS Director, Dr. Donna Wright said, “School Resource Officers already play a vital role in all of our schools, and these new measures will only enhance that.  The reality is, there are limits on what our school administrators are capable of investigating.  That’s why it’s so important that law enforcement be directly involved, whenever there’s even a suspicion that a student could pose a serious threat.”

Sheriff Robert Bryan said that the centralized database will not only provide for more thorough record keeping of each case, but it’ll also prevent incidents of suspected violence from slipping through the cracks.

“In the past, some parents have been filing complaints at the school level, while others have been contacting law enforcement directly,” the website said that Bryan stated. “Both are fine, but with the number of complaints that we’re seeing, it’s really important to have solid, timely record keeping, particularly in those cases where we believe something has occurred, but don’t have sufficient evidence to file criminal charges.”

The Sheriff’s Office also launched a “school safety committee” comprised of teachers, parents, youth services staff, and members from the District Attorney’s office. The group meets quarterly to address specific concerns from the community and identify new safety initiatives.

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