Huntsville City Schools holds first of five School Safety Engagement Forums

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Huntsville City Schools wants to hear from the community about what it should do next with regard to safety and security.

After a recent accidental shooting in an elementary school, Superintendent Christie Finley announced the eventual formation of a School Safety Task Force, and a series of meetings in each part of the district to provide ideas. She said the point is to evaluate policy and procedures and see what needs to change.

Leaders say the forums, planned throughout the next two weeks, are to share ideas and concepts for enhancing school safety and parent accountability. The district believes the forums are opportunities for all to provide "solution-oriented input."

"I felt that everyone was participating vigorously, and the small size of the groups tonight lent more conversation," said Jeffrey Wilson, Huntsville City Schools Director of Operations. "I saw people participating and sharing with each other, and I thought that was very important."

The district wants everyone on board with its next steps.

"As we go forward, whatever we decide to do with regard to school safety and security, we can honestly say we are reflecting the community's intent as well as the board's and the superintendent's," said Wilson.

Kimberly Ferguson came with her son Jabari. In her small group at the forum, she contributed multiple ideas including metal detectors and clear backpacks.

"I want schools to be safe. We don't want guns in the schools, and right now we don't really know what Huntsville City Schools is going to end up doing," she said.

Ferguson said she was upset when the incident happened at Blossomwood Elementary School.

"I think it's a warning that we need to take action now," she said, "before someone gets hurt or killed."

Ferguson is urging other parents and stakeholders in the district to come and be a part of the changes Huntsville City Schools may make.

"I just think, as a parent, we need people to get involved and advocate for the children," she said.

Ferguson wants to see real results come out of these forums.

"I want solutions. Long-term solutions," she said. "I will keep fighting."

These are the next forums:

  • District 3: Tuesday, October 2, 2018 at Grissom High School
  • District 1: Wednesday, October 3, 2018 at Jemison High School
  • District 2: Monday, October 15, 2018 at Lee High School
  • District 4: Wednesday, October 17, 2018 at Huntsville High School

Attendees divide into small groups to collaborate on ideas that will be shared at the end of the meeting. Leaders say after the last forum, they will decide who will be on the School Safety Task Force in November.

"The task force will review these recommendations and then select which ones to recommend to the superintendent to turn into actionable goals and objectives," said Wilson.

On March 7, the superintendent plans to update the board on these recommendations and prepare for implementation.