School Safety Strategies Discussed At Special Forum
TULSA, Oklahoma - A special forum on school safety was held in Tulsa Thursday.
The ideas presented at the forum ranged from arming teachers to a better, more secure check in system for visitors.
Kendall-Whittier Elementary is one of 25 TPS schools to use Ident-A-Kid. The system is used to check students into or out of school. It also monitors people who visit the school.
A visitor just has to type their name into the system, pose for a photo ID, and a blue badge is printed that all visitors must wear on their chest.
"We are always looking for that blue badge of somebody that we don't recognize," said Principal Ronda Kesler.
Ident-A-Kid was a main topic at a TPS and Chamber of Commerce sponsored forum Thursday morning.
Attendees included business leaders, teachers, and law enforcement. The goal was to learn more about ways to keep schools safe.
Part of the discussion centered on a bill making its way through the state legislature that would allow teachers to carry guns.
The police chief for Tulsa Public Schools doesn't think that's a good idea. He says a better plan is for the state to find money for an armed police officer to patrol the school.
"If we're going to do the best for kids, let's don't try to cut corners, let's don't take the cheap way out. That's what we're trying to do when we arm teachers," said TPS Police Chief Gary Rudick.
Kesler agrees, saying armed teachers would bring more problems than it solves.
"It's unpredictable, what can happen, and everybody has the best intent and safety precautions, but when there's weapons accessible, it just increases danger," Kesler said.
Chief Rudick says, in light of the Sandy Hook tragedy, TPS has moved up a project to install surveillance cameras and magnetic doors at all of its schools. The project, paid for by a bond passed in 2010, was supposed to be finished by the end of 2015, but Chief Rudick says it will now be done by the end of this year.
The bill that would allow teachers to carry guns on campus is still in committee. We were unable to reach Representative Mark McCullough, who authored the bill.