Vernon school officials focus on safety

Published 9:46 pm Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Vernon Parish school officials will be focusing on safety protocols and procedures this summer, and the topic was highlighted during a recent school board meeting.

Sheriff Sam Craft and officials with Fort Polk were all in attendance for a school board meeting last week where discussions sparked by recent events in Uvalde, Texas, focused on efforts to keep local Vernon Parish schools safe.

“It’s always a priority, no matter who you are or what position you have in this district; everyone’s main focus is on keeping schools safe and I’m pleased that we have a united front within our board members,” Assistant Superintendent Mike Kay said.

Each campus of the 18 schools within the district has a crisis management plan in place that is evaluated every year, according to Kay, and each school has an assigned school resource officer designated by the sheriff’s office.

At the school board meeting, officials said they intend to reach out to the director of the local Office of Emergency Preparedness, Kenneth Moore, to request a walk-through and close examination of each campus within the district.
Moore said that request would be welcomed by his office, and that he personally performed walk-throughs of schools three years ago alongside Deputy Sammy Edwards, who serves as the supervisor to the school resource officers.

Moore said he believes the time is right for another review of campuses.

“In the past, Sammy Edwards and I work together to go through each campus extensively and methodically to highlight any areas that we believe an evil-doer, shall we say, could use to their advantage. Our goal during these tours is to focus on ‘hardening’ the facility to keep it as safe as possible for the students and the faculty members that are there,” Moore said.

“It’s never something that you can do once and be done. Things are always changing and improving and we have to make sure that we change with it,” he said.

Moore said his evaluations of the schools are done in close communication with Craft and school board members, and Kay said it is the close level of communication that he believes is key in successful safety procedures being followed.

“Everyone on this board is able to come together in agreement that safety is a number one priority and I think that is evident at our meetings. When it comes to safety, everyone is all in together,” Kay said.

Kay said he anticipates further discussions on security at upcoming school board meetings, and that he believes the board will be inviting Moore to conduct further evaluations once schools reopen in the fall so that he can scrutinize procedures that are currently in place.