Securing Schools

Practice evacuations, such as fire drills, are now taking on renewed meaning for the Meridian Public District.

Although such procedures have always been important, district officials have taken steps to make safety an even bigger priority by addressing some new areas. In fact, at the school board's meeting this week, district officials approved guidelines on how to handle cases involving weapons of mass destruction and biological terrorism.

"Teachers can't teach if they don't feel they're safe and students can't learn unless they feel that they're safe," said Dr. Sam Thompson, director of safety for Meridian Public Schools.

Although he could not comment on specifics about the new guidelines, Thompson did tell us that they include more teacher involvement.

Meanwhile, with the establishment of a student-led Safety Patrol and Student Crimestoppers line, he says over the last two years the reports of crime in the district have dropped drastically.

"In terms of crime it has dropped about 65 percent," Thompson said.

As for the next step, Thompson said the district plans to reach out more to the community. He's planning a special meeting to bring together school officials, parents, law enforcement and emergency response officials, all to share their concerns and ideas about school safety.

The meeting will be held at the district's safety center at Harris Elementary. A time for that meeting will be announced at a later date.