Parent Urges Oconee School Board to Boost Security with Armed Law Enforcement Presence
"Now is not the time, in my opinion, to bury heads in the sand and think [a tragedy] cannot happen here," Emily Givens told the Board of Education Monday.
Those were Emily Givens' opening statements to the Oconee County Board of Education Monday.
"Like every parent in the nation, our hearts are heavy," she said. "We all mourn the senseless loss of precious lives. And though the better part of our souls tells us they are resting in glory, our minds keep re-reminding us that as a nation we can do better, we can be more prepared, and we have to be."
Givens, who has two daughters in elementary school, requested the Board "enact measures aimed at decisively deterring a similar unspeakable tragedy," and she called for an armed law enforcement presence in every school.
"Please, please, please give the best of the best needed jobs," she pleaded. "As a taxpayer, I would gladly pay higher taxes for full-time armed police officers in our county schools. Let chance favor the prepared minds of the Oconee County School System by implementing security measures like this as quickly as possible." (Hear her full comments in the attached video.)
Should part of a security plan be to place armed officers in every school in Oconee County? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
As is typical during the public communication portion of a meeting, board members did not immediately respond.
Superintendent Dr. Jason Branch Tuesday said the school system "appreciates Mrs. Givens passion and concern" but doesnt' have any plans to issue a written response. However, he said, Givens' comments will be taken into consideration, as is feedback from all parents.
Regarding the issue of school safety, Branch reiterated that the school system has always worked closely with local law enforcement and will continue to do so.
"Certainly there's ongoing dialogue with the Sheriff's Office, but I cannot comment on any specific plans for obvious reasons," he said.
Branch said school officials understand that anytime a tragedy like the one in Newtown occurs "it brings on an added level or concern."
"We've got a comprehensive plan we work on on an annual basis," he explained. "Schools continue to conduct safety drills and look for ways to continue to improve."
According to the Sheriff''s Office, Prince Avenue Christian School also held a drill Tuesday.
In the days following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, the Oconee County Sheriff's Office, at the request of school officials, stepped up its presence on campuses, and released this statement:
The Sheriff's Office is working in conjunction with the Oconee County School System and the private schools within the county concerning school security issues. All security plans and their implementation are a partnership between the Sheriff's Office and the schools and are jointly developed.
This is not new or simply in response to the recent events in Connecticut. This has been the process in the past and it will continue in the future.
Please understand that while we prefer transparency, obviously we cannot release specific details of the plans.
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