Superintendent Thomas: Getting community feedback on school safety not off table

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Now that the Knox County School board has approved a new memorandum of agreement without hearing any community input, some are wondering what happens next? Will their voices ever be heard?

The ball is in the superintendent’s court. After several attempts to include the community in conversations about the MOA failed with the school board, it is now up to Bob Thomas to come up with a process for gathering feedback.

“The board did not approve an amendment that would’ve given me the authorization to go to one agreement and get community input, however, the board did say that’s an expectation we have of you superintendent. So I can certainly act on that,” Thomas said.

Thomas says it is still his intent to gather feedback, he just has to map out a process to do it. He says it’s going to be one of his priorities going into the school year.

“That’s what I plan to do, is to figure out a way for us to get community input and input from our stakeholders,” Thomas said.

The new MOA with the Knoxville Police Department will stay in effect for one year, then it will be reviewed. In that time, Thomas hopes come to one shared agreement with Knoxville Police and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office. He also plans to include the incoming security chief, Jason Periard.

“I think we can operate successfully with two agreements starting out, what again I would like to work toward is one agreement. And also to take both agreements as we look at them and what improvements can be made. What improvements can we make from school security side and principal side and school side,” Thomas said.

The next 12 months will be focused on getting the new chief settled and working on one agreement with law enforcement entities. It’ll make for a busy year, but the superintendent says he’s up for the challenge.

Periard starts his duties Aug. 2. Thomas says one of his top priorities once he starts, is to have a one on one with him. He say the MOA and community meetings will be one of their first topics of discussion.

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