MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) — The Alabama House and Senate Education Policy Committees will hold a joint session Wednesday in Montgomery to discuss school safety and security issues and seek ideas for improvements. Many agencies from Huntsville, Madison and Madison County will be represented at the public hearing.
In light of recent and tragic events there is no community of parent or teachers anywhere in the country who are complacent about school safety. Madison City Schools’ Student Services Director Dennis James says Wednesday’s hearing will help reveal security practices that are working in various systems that could be implemented statewide.
“What I’m most interested in hearing about tomorrow,” says James, “are the opinions of the experts in the field. They’re bringing together people from homeland security, the sheriff’s association and even the district attorney’s association so they’re bringing together all of these people at one table that have a certain perspective and I want to hear their thoughts and opinions and hopefully pick up things that we can bring back home.”
The hearing will focus on a wide range of topics, even those that have been elevated as hot button issues within the national narrative on student safety.
The notion of armed school safety personnel has been a very divisive issue all across the country. Many administrators think this is an avenue Alabama schools are headed toward on a larger scale.
“Well, you know, after the Discovery Middle School shooting we commissioned a safe school task force to take a good comprehensive look at our safety program and they came back with specific recommendations,” James points out.
James admits there is no one-size-fits-all solution but he says the implementation of Madison’s school resource officer program in particular has been so successful he imagines other systems may take a look at mirroring similar programs in their own systems.
“But each system is going to have to tweak and make it fit to their individual area and needs.”
Vice chair of the Education Policy Committee, state representative Phil Williams of Huntsville will also participate in Wednesday’s meeting.
“I believe we must prepare as if tragedy is going to happen,” warns Williams. “We can’t just say, that was Connecticut, that was Columbine, that was so far away–I really feel we have to plan as if this is going to happen.”
Williams says the hearing will be open to ideas from any and everyone will a sole agenda of shared success and continued student safety statewide.
“We need to hear from law enforcement, mental health officials, school administrators, superintendents–we need to hear from everybody–so as lawmakers our goal basically is to listen get input and then determine if legislation should be addressed.”
Madison representative Mike Ball, Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard and administrators from Madison and Huntsville city schools will also join in Wednesday’s school safety discussions.