Frustrated Lexington parents, students demand answers about school safety

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - At the first meeting of the Fayette County Public Schools District Safety Advisory Council, the focus quickly shifted from best practices for school safety to parents and students demanding answers about an incident at Henry Clay High School.

Several parents and students shouted out during the scheduled meeting asking Superintendent Manny Caulk to address the incident, in which a student allegedly brought a loaded gun to Henry Clay Thursday morning.

ORIGINAL STORY: Principal: Henry Clay High School student brought loaded gun to school

At first, Caulk did not want to address their concerns, pointing out the meeting was not meant to be a "town hall," but parents kept pushing saying their children were scared to go to school.

"Parents showed up. Students showed up. They wanted reassurance that something is going to be done. What are they doing to ensure their safety," said Henry Clay parent Alexandra Pallos.

Parents and students say another threat of violence is going around on social media, indicating trouble at Henry Clay on Friday. Lexington police do not believe the threat is credible. However, parents feel the district is not communicating with them well enough.

Several parents said they did not receive the message the school sent out about the incident.

Caulk responded to that concern after the meeting.

"We haven't been great at it - communicating with families when these incidents arise," he said.

Caulk said in the current climate, the district needs to do a better job of getting information to parents in a timely and convenient manner. He said they are already working on implementing one possible solution.

"We're going to move and migrate to an app in about a week," Caulk said. "That app will allow us to send information in a faster time period, so it happens closer to real-time."

Caulk said there will be more law enforcement present at Henry Clay High School on Friday as they continue to investigate the possible threat.

As part of the planned agenda for the District Safety Advisory Council meeting, Jon Akers, executive director of the Kentucky Center for School Safety, and William "Bill" Modzeleski, a senior consultant with several groups specializing in school safety, presented to a diverse group of council members.

When asked what best safety practices they would implement if they had unlimited funds, Modzeleski and Akers mentioned investing in school counselors, offering alternatives to expulsion and suspension, and utilizing social media to its fullest extent.

The experts advised against arming teachers when discussing having a firearm in school.

"If there is an absolute need for that maybe it should be somebody in law enforcement, but somebody that is trained," said Modzeleski. "Having somebody with that responsibility in a school is grave responsibility and they really need the training necessary,"

There are several future meetings planned:

March 8, 2018 - 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. - Tates Creek High School - Topic: Juvenile Justice

March 15, 2018 - 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. - Bryan Station High School - Topic: Mental Health

March 20, 2018 - 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. - Lafayette High School - Topic: Social Media

March 22, 2018 - 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. - Frederick Douglass High School - Topic: Facilitated Discussion of Recommendations

March 29, 2018 - 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. - Henry Clay High School - Topic: Facilitated Discussion of Recommendations

To participate in those meetings, people can submit questions and offer input ahead of time via email to advisorycouncil@fayette.kyschools.us.

During the meetings, leaders have set up a program called Slido where people can comment as the meeting is happening.



 
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