Lancaster County Schools continue making school safety “a number one priority” amid violent upticks
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - As Charlotte-Mecklenburg School leaders look to find ways to stop students from bringing loaded guns to school after a violent and disturbing start to the new school year, we look to a different school district to see what has worked for them.
The Lancaster County School District in South Carolina says in the last 10 years they have seen only a handful of guns inside their schools. While the district recognizes that it is a much smaller school district in comparison to CMS—the safety director says one non-negotiable punishment helps keep weapons out of their schools
Safety and Transportation Director Bryan Vaughn says they stand firm on any weapons coming into the schools with recommended expulsions.
If you are caught with something you are not supposed to, you are gone and could even be handed over to the sheriff’s office.
Before I get more into that, let’s talk about what the district is looking for and how they find these things. The typical weapons like knives, razors and guns are not allowed on school property, but the director says they have seen an uptick in pepper spray and tasers recently as well.
With the school resources officers, Lancaster Schools uses portable metal detectors and K9s to find these items. Both types of searches are done at random within middle and high schools. The director believes these efforts have helped deter this type of behavior, but he also thinks their consistent and firm punishment of recommended expulsion makes kids think twice.
”There are many situations that occur where there are gray areas where you want to have some discretion but the bottom line is there is not a legitimate place for a weapon on school grounds,” says Vaughn.
”It’s not the same as when I was growing up,” says one mom who agrees with the safety measures.
When you send your child to school 6 hours a day you expect them to be safe. Sometimes that safety looks like this—metal detectors and K9s.
”If it means metal detectors to keep safe, I’m ok with that,” says another.
”If it keeps them protected, I am all for it,” says one more mom who is all for keeping her kids safe.
Lancaster County Schools says it is taking that protection seriously.
”When those things happen it’s as if those things happen to our own children,” says Vaughn.
School shootings. Bomb threats. Bringing guns to school. It is happening across both the Carolinas. Vaughn says it is the main reason they put so much effort into safety.
”Our core mission is to educate kids and you can’t educate kids if they don’t feel safe being in school if they don’t feel safe while they’re there,” he explains.
Vaughn calls the district a quote microcosm of the community. Simply put, if it is in the community it could be in the schools. Recently, two girls were fighting on this bus, according to Vaughn. One used pepper spray on the other, which ended up hitting eight students and the bus driver. So he says his relationship with his parents is another key to safety success.
”First and foremost you’ve gotta have that good parental support. Then you gotta be open with your parents. You gotta be transparent. You’ve gotta let them know what’s taking place,” he says.
It is what Vaughn credits for why they’re able to do random metal detector searches or have students hand over their backpacks to be searched by K9s. Efforts to continue the main goal of teaching.
”We’ve drawn the line and we’re sticking to it at this point,” says Vaughn.
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