Model of Safety

The Meridian Public School District was the first in the state to establish a School Safety Center.

The concept is now catching on. Friday, representatives from the state's largest school district talked with locals about how to establish their own safety center.

Serving more than 32,000 students, officials with the Jackson Public School District say Friday's problems have made such centers necessary.

"We're talking about discipline, attendance, fighting, weapons," said Diane Winfrey-Thorton, of Jackson's Committee on Discipline.

Local officials say these problems and many more are not isolated to one area, but instead are nationwide.

"Our schools are just a mirror of our society," said MPS Safety Director, Dr. Sam Thompson. "If children are carrying weapons on the street, they can end up in schools."

As with many schools within the Meridian Public School District, gates, security officers, hidden cameras and sometimes special metal detectors are used. But safety officials say the most effective security measure is cooperation between the school, parents and community.

"They must work together," said Thompson. "As they say, a house divided against itself cannot stand."

Because of the success of the safety center concept, Mississippi lawmakers have approved a measure to establish such a center on the state level to assist school districts.

If all goes well, officials with the Jackson Public School District say they hope to have their own safety center up and running by the next school year.

Meanwhile, the Alabama Department of Education, Prevention, and Support Services conducted a meeting Friday night at Livingston High School.

Parents were invited to discuss the fatal stabbing this week in the school cafeteria that claimed the life of Sedrick Daniels, 17, of Gainesville, Ala.

The groups reviewed safety procedures and considering revisions.