Parents question school security and safety following Monday’s shooting

Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 8:56 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - School security is on the minds of parents in the St. Louis region following Monday’s deadly school shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School.

“It hits home, very scary,” said Ciara Wisham, the mother of a 7th grader.

Benededda Orsi Aquino is the mother of a two-year-old but is worried about what kind of school security will be in place when her child gets older.

“What about security? What about trusting the school and the environment?” she said.

The director of security for the Jennings School District, Leon Hite III, told News 4 that he’s already seen an uptick in calls and emails from security vendors following Monday’s deadly school shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School.

Hite said his district has two school resource officers at Jennings High School but has also added two armed security officers to the school.

“It’s a new initiative that we did this year,” he said.

Hite said the district doesn’t want students to be put off by the armed officers, so he said they’ll wear suits or blazers, like Secret Service agents. He also said the district has purchased technology that allows them to lock up student’s cellphones throughout the day. He said students still have their phones with them, but they’re in small bags. He said it eliminates distractions.

Security officers assigned to schools in the St. Louis Public School District are not armed. However, the district has around 25 armed security officers that patrol and respond as needed.

Deandre Davis, director of safety & security for SLPS spoke about the decision not to put armed officers in schools at a press conference Tuesday.

“For some people that would cause a stir. It’s best for our officer, for the normalcy of school for kids not to have armed officers in schools,” said Davis.

The trend across the area seems to be toward more armed security in schools. Earlier this year, St. Charles County officials announced the use of COVID relief funds to place SROs in 14 additional schools.

The Parkway School District has an SRO at each of its four high schools and five middle schools. The district also has seven armed security officers that monitor and respond to situations 24/7.

In 2018, voters passed a bond issue that funded new security measures. One of them was the installation of intruder-resistant safety film on all the entrance doors and the windows in classroom doors.