School shootings give opportunity to improve safety, KDE says

State Commissioner of Education Jason Glass says schools need to be proactive by reporting concerning behavior

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Sadly, Uvalde isn’t the first school shooting in recent memory. There was Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, Columbine High School in 1999 and many others, to include a few in Kentucky. These shootings leave many with questions about school safety and the awful thoughts of “what if it happens at my child’s school?”

State Commissioner of Education Jason Glass is the former superintendent of the Colorado school district that includes Columbine. His close tie to such a horrifically well-known shooting gives him a heightened level of familiarity with school safety, which he brought to Kentucky.

Glass says he’s glad state lawmakers are trying to help with a new law that requires most schools have a School Resource Officer (SRO), but says there’s a big piece missing from that legislation.

“The legislature didn’t provide any of the funding necessary to actually put those School Resource Officers into buildings. And, they didn’t provide a support system around the training that it takes to be a school resource officer, so you can’t just take any police officer and put them in a school and expect that to be successful,” says Glass.

Chris Barrier has been an SRO for 15 years. He’s currently head of law enforcement for Montgomery County Schools. He says Kentucky’s training is one of the best in the country with a required 120 hours. Barrier says school safety has many branches like policies and procedures, infrastructure like locks and cameras and then the SRO’s.

But the piece he thinks needs to be worked on most? Detection.

“How do we work with mental health people, school administration, school resource officers, how do we get all the players and stakeholders to the table so that we can get better at what we do so that we don’t have a Uvalde, we don’t have a Parkland, we don’t have a Columbine,” says Barrier.

Barrier says it’s easy after something happens like Uvalde to sit back and become a backseat driver, but it needs to be more than just judgement on what went wrong. Both Barrier and Glass say these school shootings provide a learning opportunity and chance to improve school safety. Glass says every time there’s a school shooting, lessons are learned from what protections worked to what went wrong.

“One of the things that we will learn from this Texas shooting situation is that if we see concerning behavior, disturbing behavior, someone needs to report that and action needs to be taken,” says Glass. “We saw lots of behavior in the case of the Texas shooter that was disturbing and gave some advanced warning and a lot of that was ignored or not acted upon.”

“I want parents to understand that we show up to work every single day to make sure their kids come home to them safely every single day,” says Barrier. “That’s our job and that’s what we do.”

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