September is School Safety Month, NC superintendent says

September 4, 2018

North Carolina Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson has declared September to be School Safety Month, he said in an announcement Tuesday morning.

Awareness on the part of school staff, parents and students is the biggest defense against violent school tragedies similar to that in Parkland, Florida, Johnson said.

“It will be parents and students who will be the number one resource of information for us to keep one student’s issues from becoming a school tragedy,” he said during the announcement at the Wake County Public Safety Center. “If parents or students see that a student’s behavior is becoming odd, abnormal or their behavior is changing, they need to tell a law enforcement official, a school official or mental health professional.”

About $30 million dollars of the state’s budget is dedicated to school safety this year, Johnson said.

He said the state was adding hundreds of additional law enforcement officers in schools, and it’s working to increase the number of school psychologists. Currently there is one psychologist for every 2,100 students. The national recommendation is one for every 500 to 700 students.

Bullying, and particularly cyberbullying, is a danger to students and school safety, Johnson said.

“If students see that a student is suffering from bullying, they need to tell an educator, a mental health professional or a law enforcement official,” Johnson said. “Bullying is unacceptable, but now, even more than ever, in this day and age, we know that some of these school tragedies start because of excessive bullying.”

He said both law enforcement agencies and individual schools should have safety plans in case a school is threatened.

Last week, a Rolesville High School student was arrested in connection with a Code Red lockdown at the school.

Court documents state Kelton Didier Kombo, 16, called the Wake County 911 center and said three times that there was an ongoing school shooting even though there was none.

On Tuesday, Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said that while law enforcement partners aim to be prepared in case a threat occurs, he wants the community to be able to stop issues before those threats are realized.

“We’re going to continue to train,” Harrison said of law enforcement agencies. “We’re going to be ready, but hopefully we can stop something before it happens.”

He said parents and guardians listen to their children, adding that by looking in their rooms and hearing about their lives, they can learn more about their children’s interests and goings-on at their schools.

“Somebody’s going to say something,” Harrison said. “Every school shooting we’ve had, somebody knew something about it prior to it happening.

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