FRANKLIN (WATE) - In the wake of the
shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, school systems across the country are
questioning their own security plans.
On Tuesday, Tennessee educators and law enforcement officials joined Gov. Bill Haslam in Franklin to participate in a far-reaching discussion
on how best to protect our schools.
More than 400
participants from nearly every one of the 137 school districts in the state
participated in the School Safety Summit.
Among them was
Cumberland County School Security head Tim Claflin, who said the summit was a
perfect networking opportunity.
"This gives us a
great opportunity to network with other counties, like Knox, and get lots of
different ideas about security," he said.
Mike Lowery of Monroe
County also attended and agreed with Claflin.
"I feel we're doing a good job
right now with school security, but we're never satisfied with the status quo, so we're always looking for better ways to do things," he said.
The summit was
organized by the state and led by Gov. Haslam, who told the crowd that
he was there, along with his Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, to listen.
"This is a discussion," the governor said.
It was also an
opportunity to hear from those on the front lines of the security
"The error for folks
like me, the politicians, would be to say, 'Here's what we're going to do,' without
involving those who do this every day," he said.
several bills have been introduced in the General Assembly that would arm both
teachers and school administrators.
Gov. Haslam says he has a personal stake in that
because his daughter is a teacher.
"I said, 'Can you
imagine a situation where teachers are armed?' and she said, 'I can't imagine being
in the middle of a situation with students as being very effective'," he said.
What does appear to
be effective, however, is communication.
"One of the themes of today's summit is making sure we are all
collaborating and cooperating and I think Knox County Schools is a great example
of that because we have extraordinary collaboration," said Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre.
Knox County's top
cops, Sheriff J.J. Jones and Police Chief David Rausch, both agreed with the superintendent's assessment.
they've talked about today, we're already doing," said the sheriff.
key is paying attention to the fact that we all need to work together," Chief Rausch said. "It's not
a school responsibility or law enforcement's responsibility. It's all our
The one-day summit
included national speakers including William Modzeleski, a recognized expert on
school violence, who told participants that curbing school violence
doesn't stop at the front door.
It's also about
creating a culture of connectedness, he said.