By Jazlyn Mercer, NDG Contributing Writer
The Dallas ISD School (Dallas ISD) board met Feb. 22 in their first meeting in the wake of the Feb. 14 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. The issue of school safety and security was a primary concern addressed by parents, Dallas ISD staff and the board.
“Our hearts are heavy with our brethren in Broward County, Florida,” said Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa. “Our hearts go out to them.”
Gail Perry, a librarian at Thomas Jefferson High School, speaking on behalf of The National Education Association (NEA) of Dallas addressed the issue of school security during the public forum.
“Columbine changed education in America forever,” Perry said. “There had been school shootings before including here in Dallas, but never had there been a mass shooting in a school before that horrible day.”
Perry asked the board to take security measures to the next level after this recent school shooting asking the board and the Dallas Police Department to work together to ensure each school has the best safety plan.
Superintendent Hinojosa provided an overview of the current and upcoming plans for protecting students and staff. There are no plans to arm Dallas ISD teachers. Arming teachers is a suggestion floated by President Donald Trump following a listening session with students and parents who have lost friends and loved ones in school shootings going back to Columbine and including the recent Parkland tragedy.
Hinojosa addressed the existing security plans for students, applauding the Dallas Police Department (Dallas PD). The Dallas PD provides with 100 sworn peace officers to protect the students of Dallas ISD and to patrol the campuses. Building security has increased in Dallas ISD since the Sandy Hook campus shooting. There are camera systems everywhere, and any visitors to the schools must go through the Raptor check-in system.
“Despite all those safety measures, we cannot legislate behavior,” said Hinojosa. “We need to be vigilant, we need to do everything in our power, and I’m very proud of the people and our principals who share information with us and with each other on these matters.”
Plans include reviewing the campus security plan individually to address their specific security needs, and to look at teacher training for emergency situations. They also want to make sure the campus metal detectors are in good working condition and ensure someone is consistently monitoring them.
“It’s a difficult problem, we can’t make schools perfectly safe, but we’ve got to try to make them safer,” said Dallas ISD Trustee and Board President Dan Micciche.