Mercer County Schools are implementing many different programs to ensure safety within the schools including an additional two School Resource Officers (SRO).
Beginning in 2017 Daylen Morris began patrolling the schools as an SRO as part of the “Keeping Kids Safe in Mercer County” initiative that included, positive behavior interventions, the “Say Something” campaign, limited access to buildings, the Stop Bullying tip line, additional emergency training and much more.
The increase in SRO programs and training follows in the wake of the tragic events that have unfolded across the country. The 2018 -19 school year will see Chad Baker at King Middle School, Timothy J Wren at the Elementary and Intermediate schools as well Daylen Morris’ continued presence at the Mercer County Senior High School.
“The Marshall School Shooting really effected us because it happened in Kentucky,” said Dennis Davis, Superintendent of Mercer County Schools.
“Right after that and Parkland, we sat down with Sheriff Kelty, Chief Allen and Commissioner Mosley to see about making our schools safer.”
Mercer County Schools have spent the past three years updating their PA systems, adding cameras and hiring additional SROs to the prevention plans. A vestibule is planned to be added to the Intermediate school this year as well as increasing counselor relationships and building a solid trust between officers and the children.
“Kids’ safety is our main priority. Learning cannot take place without safety,” said Davis. “The Kentucky Center for Safe Schools recommends that additional SROs are the most effective solution in increasing school safety.”
Mercer County Schools dealt with several threats during the 2017-18 school year that effected students and staff. “We have never had a viable threat but we treat each instance as if it were,” said Davis. “No matter how small or viable a threat is, we follow the same procedure of contacting the SRO, investigation and notification.”
“It cost the students and the teachers every time there is a threat,” said Esther Hayslett, Director of Pupil Personnel and Safe Schools Coordinator. “It makes people nervous and takes away from learning.”
“We have identified every person responsible for the threats but one,” said Davis. “It isn’t a joke and consequences are real.”
There are severe consequences for making threats within both the schools and law enforcement. Charges are filled in every case and every person identified as making a threat must face the School Board for expulsion.
Increasing relationships between students and staff as well as building trust with law enforcement is important to Mercer County Schools.
“We are teaching situational awareness as well, unfortunately it has become a needed new life skill,” said Hayslett. “Our relationships are very important to prevention.”
For more information on school safety contact Mercer County Schools at 733-7000.