School district’s safety policies testament to effective leadership

Published 11:10 am Thursday, April 17, 2014

In just one year, a transformation is apparent.

Nearly a year after group fights and gang-related violence marred the spring semester at Vicksburg High School, the Vicksburg Warren School District has taken tremendous strides in keeping its students safe.

Across the board, the number of serious disciplinary actions and requests for police presence is down and the district should be commended for that.

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With several incidences — most recently when a juvenile brought a weapon to Vicksburg Junior High School and previously with two separate bomb threats — the district acted swiftly, in accordance with its policies for dealing with these threats.

While serious threats to student safety can grab headlines, too often the actions, policies and procedures that prevent physical harm to students go unrecognized.

Earlier this year, we highlighted some of the steps taken by our local school district to protect its students.

One of the obvious positives has been the inclusion of the district’s school resource officers (SROs) into the Central Mississippi Crime Stoppers hotlines.

With the cooperative efforts, concerns about potential safety issues that arise outside the district’s grounds can be conveyed to the district’s SROs before they come to a head.

This tipline has been vital in preventing many possible problems.

The district’s cooperation with the Vicksburg Police Department and Warren County Sheriff’s Department is also vital to ensuring our students’ safety.

Both agencies have responded in timely and effective fashion to a number of threats — most of which have been a case of a single student making a bad decision, such as calling in a false bomb threat or carrying a weapon on campus.

Social workers and behavioral therapists are also employed by the district to head off any potential problems with students before they become real.

The district’s approach to safely handling the situation at VJHS Tuesday is a great example of some of the changes that have become particularly apparent during the 2013-14 academic year and since Superintendent Chad Shealy’s arrival.

As many have said previously, if students, teachers and the community do not feel that the children are safe in the local school district, a positive learning environment will not exist.

The district’s approach to both the recent bomb threats and the presence of a weapon on campus is reassuring and should provide optimism a positive learning environment does indeed exist.