SC Superintendent of Education pushes SROs and mental health support for safe schools

South Carolina (WBTV) - State and national leaders continue to debate over how we should protect our children in school following the Valentine's Day massacre at a Florida school.

In South Carolina, Governor Henry McMaster hosted a school safety summit in which state leaders from SLED, the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Education were there.

"We must be sure we have an officer, a trained and certified police officer, armed in every school," Governor McMaster said.

In his 2018-2019 budget, the governor proposed a $5 million pilot program to fulfill that wish for 1-SRO in each school. His proposal also funds $250,000 for the Department of Mental Health's school-based services.

Fort Mill schools already have seven SROs and recently approved to hire six more armed security officers. The board also approved the hire of three more mental health counselors.

"We stand behind having an SRO in every school," Superintendent Molly Spearman said.

She says they're also working on a virtual training program for teachers so that they know what signs to look for in a potentially troubled student. However, she says there needs to be resources available to schools after signs are recognized.

"So we've got to decide what are we going to do with those children because often times they are sent home to stew and that's not good so we've got to come up with a better support system for those children who do not fit in for whatever reason and our regular setting in public schools," Spearman said.

Clover schools and other districts across the state rely on the State Department of Mental Health for programs to assist students with mental illnesses. A Clover school district spokesperson says they are in talks with the Catawba Mental Health Facility to enhance the mental health support they already provide the school.

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