Education

Fort Mill school leader to parents after Fla. shooting: ‘Talk with your student’

Local school districts are responding to parent and community concerns after 17 people were killed in a shooting Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

Fort Mill Superintendent Chuck Epps sent a statement Thursday to school families and staff members.

“In light of the recent event in Florida, we have received questions from some of our parents in regards to the security of our schools. First, I want to say our thoughts and hearts go out to everyone impacted by this terrible tragedy,” Epps wrote. “I want to assure you all that our district places the safety of our students and staff as a top priority.”

Epps said school resource officers or armed security is in place at all Fort Mill schools.

He said the staff undergoes emergency situation training and has emergency protocols in place.

“The district and our schools make every effort to protect our students and staff on our campuses at all times,” Epps wrote. “As always, we will remain vigilant in our efforts to protect our students and provide a safe learning environment.”

Epps also said events like the shooting can affect the mental health of students. He said the district has counselors on staff who are available to students.

“Parents, we ask that you also talk with your student to help them understand these situations and let them know that our staff is here to help them in anyway,” Epps wrote. “These types of tragedies are a reminder that we as educators and parents need to work together to maintain the safety and well-being of our students.”

These types of tragedies are a reminder that we as educators and parents need to work together to maintain the safety and wellbeing of our students.

Chuck Epps, Fort Mill school district superintendent

The Lancaster County School District recently created a school safety director position to help upgrade safety throughout the district, David Knight, spokesperson, wrote in a statement to The Herald.

The district also holds safety drills throughout the year followed up by meetings with principals and the safety director to evaluate and improve safety procedures, Knight wrote. Along with school resource officers on site, the district also has more than 1,000 cameras installed on buses and monitoring halls, common areas, entrances and outside areas of schools.

Lancaster also has installed metal detectors that are used randomly throughout the district’s schools and conducts random canine drug and weapons searches during the school year.

“Our board has spent millions of dollars to secure entrances and to put in locking systems and doors that administrators can control remotely, thanks to the voters of this county,” Knight wrote. “We’ll continue to improve our safety procedures and keep our students, staff and parents safe.”

Tim Cooper, spokesperson for the York school district, also said safety of students and staff is the number one priority for the district.

“We continually review our safety procedures and monitor events to look for potential areas of improvement in our own security,” he wrote in a statement.

The Clover school district has ways to limit access to buildings and employs multiple school resource officers, said Bryan Dillon, spokesperson.

“Our staff participates in emergency situation training, and we have protocols in place to deal with emergency situations should they arise,” Dillon wrote in a statement. “The district and our schools make every effort to protect our students and staff on our campuses at all times.”

Check back for updates.

Amanda Harris: 803-329-4082

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