State department reviews school safety policies

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

The Mississippi Department of Education is reviewing its safety policies and training requirements in light of last month’s school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Shane McNeil, director of Safe and Orderly Schools at MDE, said the state department is in the process of determining any changes that need to be made.
“The Mississippi Department of Education is currently reviewing policies and training requirements related to school safety to enhance current efforts, as necessary, to ensure every child remains safe during the school day,” McNeil said in an email conversation.
“MDE employees conduct monitoring visits at schools to ensure compliance with existing policy and standards, including the use of emergency drills. We also continue to provide training and technical assistance to local school districts that is designed to promote the development of sound policies to support a safe environment that is conducive to learning.”
Several local superintendents also have said they are reviewing their districts’ policies and plan to make needed changes, particularly as more information emerges about the Dec. 14 shooting that killed 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Tupelo Superintendent Gearl Loden said in an email to all parents, teachers and staff the district will upgrade its entry systems at every school. He also said in the message the shooting served as a critical reminder to the district to evaluate its safety procedures.
“We have learned from this experience,” he said.
Lee County Superintendent Jimmy Weeks said shortly after the shooting he would have discussions with principals about the district’s crisis plans.
“Let’s make sure you’ve done all of the required drills,” he said. “Let’s keep people aware and keep this on the front burner.”
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com