Beaufort Co. school district and law enforcement meet to discuss school safety

BEAUFORT, Sc. (WSAV) – In the past three weeks in Beaufort County, four schools have been placed on lockdown due to threats–from children thinking they heard gunshots to threats written on bathroom stalls. While none of them were real, the Beaufort County School District met with local law enforcement and school representatives Wednesday to talk about students’ safety.

“Security is not convenient…there’s nothing about it that’s convenient,” Beaufort County Sheriff PJ Tanner said, “The convenience of using any door you want to to enter a school, it should be limited to two.”

The meeting started with looking at what the district has in place right now, such as school resource officers in all middle and high schools, locked double doors in every school, active shooter drills, and children who see something and say something.

They also looked at the blind spots, like stricter screening before buzzing someone into the front office and putting cameras around school perimeters.

“The perimeter is just as important, if not more important than the interior of the building,” Tanner said.

Tanner suggests that schools have monitoring stations, similar to the courthouse, where a staff member monitors cameras and dispatches when needed.

“As far as arming teachers…. no,” said one teacher, and Superintendent Moss supports his staff not being armed.

“I don’t want to introduce weapons into the school building,” Moss said.

And principals point out that there’s a need beyond the physical.

“One of the things I think we have to remember is that we have to address children’s’ mental health and emotional health,” said Hilton Head High School Principal Amanda O’Nan.

Currently, the district has nine counselors employed through Coastal Mental Health, with social workers on every campus.

“Yes, physical facilities are a thing that we need to explore, but we also need to remember, as a district, all the great things we do and we need to put in place for kids, for their mental health, to prevent these incidents,” O’Nan said.

The district also wants parents’ input. They’ll be posting the video from Wednesday’s meeting in the coming days and it will have a link for parents to give suggestions.

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