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Robichaux: Share your opinion – How can school safety be improved?

School safety is a huge concern in today’s world, whether it involves outside threats creeping onto campus or altercations that take place in school hallways.

Sheriff Mike Tregre stopped by during the Sept. 19 St. John the Baptist School Board meeting in Reserve to discuss ways school safety can be strengthened.

RAVE Panic Buttons, CPR and Stop the Bleeding training for teachers, increased school resource officer presence and Rape Aggression Defense classes were among the ideas discussed during the meeting.

School Board President Patrick Sanders said the ball is in school administration’s court to follow up on the sheriff’s presentation by setting timelines for implementation.

“I’m sure the (interim) superintendent has taken these items under advisement and is going to disperse them to the proper personnel to address with the Sheriff’s Office,” Sanders said.

Gov. John Bel Edwards and State Police Superintendent Kevin Reeves recently rolled out the RAVE Mobile Safety App, announcing funding would be available to all Louisiana k-12 schools for the first year.

When a teacher pushes the app’s panic button, 911 operators and first responders are immediately alerted and dispatched.

Morning and evening traffic concerns on U.S. 51 near Lake Pontchartrain Elementary were also discussed, and Sanders said at least one board member is seeking a solution.

“Mr. Shawn Wallace referred that he has spoken to the director of risk management to possibly extend a letter or resolution to DOTD and have them look into it,” Sanders said.

CPR and Stop the Bleeding training for teachers is under consideration, according to Sanders. School administration must first identify the best time for the training, whether it’s over the Thanksgiving holidays or another ideal date.

“There are some staff members such as coaches required to be trained, but to get more teachers involved at every school can hopefully save lives or assist someone going through a crisis,” Sanders said.

Instituting a one-day Rape Aggression Defense training course for female senior students was proposed to help young people defend themselves, on or off of the school campus.

With a shortage of school resource officers district-wide, St. John Parish Schools and the St. John Sheriff’s Office plan to work on training to get more certified SROs through the door by the beginning of the next school year.

During last week’s press conference addressing an incident at East St. John High School, Sheriff Mike Tregre reported there have been 30 physical altercations at the campus.

Sanders and school administration disputed that number, claiming it to be much lower and closer to 15 altercations. However, leaders agree any number more than zero is too high.

Sanders said educating young people in self-esteem and working with nonprofit groups to positively influence young men and women are among the ideas discussed during board work session meetings to address the problem.

“Usually these things stem from the community and homes, issues beyond the control of educating children,” Sanders said.

This week, Sanders is meeting with Ashton Cage, president and founder of local outreach group, The Movement.

“He works in terms of helping young people develop positive skills that can move forward to assist them with conflict resolution and things of this nature,” Sanders said. “That’s only one example. We’re looking to find programs that would be instrumental in helping students to change a community.”

No matter what the solutions are, it is essential to see teamwork between the School Board and the St. John Sheriff’s Office. We also can’t forget to involve the community and the parents of children who attend St. John Parish Schools.

L’OBSERVATEUR readers, what measures would you take to make our local school system safer for all students, teachers and staff?

Feel free to share your opinions by messaging or commenting on our Facebook page. You can also add input by emailing brooke.robichaux@lobservateur.com or writing a letter to the editor.

Brooke Robichaux is news editor at L’OBSERVATEUR. She can be reached at brooke.robichaux@lobservateur.com.