More than 300 K-12 and college campus safety and security professionals took a break from the desert heat last week to attend the Campus Safety Conference West held at the beautiful M Resort, Spa and Casino in Las Vegas.
Like many towns and cities across the country, Las Vegas school officials continue to have discussions on school safety best practices — particularly mental health — and where to best spend or save money.
CBS-affiliated station Las Vegas Now interviewed Campus Safety Conference panelists Robert Barsel, Susan Payne and Dr. Katie Dockweiler.
In early June, Clark County School District, the fifth largest school district in the country, which serves over 324,000 students and employs over 15,000 teachers, announced it planned to cut 170 dean positions. In Clark County, one of the dean’s biggest roles is overseeing campus safety and student discipline.
Fox 5 spoke to CSC keynoter Molly Hudgens, who said the most important job roles when it comes to school safety are school resource officers, counselors and deans of students.
“I had a student with a handgun and a plan to harm people come to me in the morning first thing,” recalled Hudgens, who is a counselor in the Cheatham County School District in Tennessee. “And he came because he said, ‘You’re the only person who could talk me out of this.’ And had I been dealing with a discipline issue or teaching a class or doing some type of administrative duty, I would not have been available to him.”
Guy Grace, who is head of security for Littleton Public Schools in Colorado, said due to budget cuts, his district has been relying on assistant principals to handle safety and security.
“It would be a wise decision to apply more into mental health than an administrative position,” he said.
Panelist Susan Payne, who founded anonymous tip line program Safe2Tell, reiterated Hudgens’ and Grace’s points in an interview with Las Vegas Now. Payne said the most common tips anonymous phone lines receive are regarding depression, suicide and anxiety.
“Even though those might be the top reported incidents, we’re still getting in people with weapons; we’re getting young people that are cruel to animals, and those are significant behaviors that are precipitators to violence,” Payne said.
With a successful Campus Safety Conference West in the books, we look forward to Texas, July 21-23 in Dallas, and East, August 6-8 in Charlotte, N.C., and the meaningful conversations that will undoubtedly arise.
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