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Fayetteville School Board talks safety with parents, teachers

by Ashton Eley | August 1, 2018 at 1:00 a.m.
FILE PHOTO The Fayetteville Public Schools McClinton Administration Building.

FAYETTEVILLE -- School Board members sought opinions and answered questions from teachers and parents about safety and security at a Fayetteville Educators Demand Action meeting Tuesday.

Board president Justin Eichmann discussed the School Safety and Security Task Force's six recommendations, which were presented to the board at the July 26 meeting and can be viewed in full at the school's website. Board members Megan Hurley, Nika Waitsman and Keaton Smith were also present.

One of the recommendations is to increase the number of school resource officers. A general consensus from those present at Tuesday's meeting seemed to be this option is preferable to armed commission school service officers. Service officers can be a civilian who has passed a background check and 60 hours of training.

Several districts in Arkansas already have service officers, though not necessarily certified to be armed on campus.

"Guns in the hands of civilians make an active shooter situation even more confusing" said Matthew Henriksen, lead of Fayetteville Educators Demand Action, which is a part of Moms Demand Action. "Also, we could be asking teachers to potentially shoot current or former students. That's something I think about."

Michelle Kieklak is a member of Moms Demand Action and a mom of two in the School District. She brought up the need for a common language and structure when it comes to how the schools present safety and security to students.

Adding a director of safety and security to manage the program could be a way to help standardize things across the district, Eichmann said.

Kieklak added, "It's one of the hardest things to hear your child talk about. I feel if there was a common language that we as parents could use and the school could use, maybe the dialogue wouldn't be as damaging, it wouldn't scare them as much or confuse them."

It's important for the school to be secure but also that students don't become too hard on anyone who is different and the mental health component has to be considered, Hurley said. The district has also assembled a second task force to address more of the mental health aspects of safety and security.

"I am looking forward to having both streams of recommendations come in," she said.

Kristi Button, a parent of a Fayetteville High School student and a recent graduate, said she's "glad to live in a district where the city and the School District seem to be on the same page, and they seem to have a like mind to the teachers."

NW News on 08/01/2018

Print Headline: Fayetteville School Board talks safety with parents, teachers


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