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Officials address safety at Knox County Schools

8:20 PM, Dec 17, 2012   |    comments
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Video: Knox Co. Schools safety press conference

Knox County Schools Superintedent Dr. Jim McIntyre addressed school safety after Newton tragedy.

The Newtown school shooting has districts across the nation reviewing safety procedures, including Knox County Schools.

Monday morning, KCS Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre addressed the media at the school board room.

Dr. McIntyre was joined by Knox County Sheriff Jimmy "J.J." Jones, Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch, KCS Security Chief Steve Griffin, and Dr. Clovis Stair, supervisor of psychological services.

"I'm a parent. I have two sons, 10-year-old and a 12-year-old, so this is a difficult tragedy to work through," Dr. McIntyre said.

KCS has an ongoing partnership with local law enforcement when dealing with student safety.

According to Dr. McIntyre, officers have carried out 13 random searches this year in middle and high schools.

In the past three years, through these searches, police have confiscated two handguns.

The district does not plan on adding permanent metal detectors at this time, but they are moving toward installing a vestibule in each school's main entrance. Some of the schools already have them.

Safety plans are updated at least once a year.

"When something tragic like this happens, we will take it as an opportunity to take another hard look at our safety plans," Dr. McIntyre said.

He says over the past three years, officials have been adding hardware to classroom doors. It allows teachers to lock the doors from the inside. By February, all classrooms in KCS will have the new locks.

Officers have also trained teachers how to respond.

Chief Rausch noted that any type of drill (fire, tornado) can help children learn to listen to their teachers.

"I don't think we need to do as much training the children, as training the people responsible for the children," Chief David Rausch said.

There will not be an increase of officers at schools, but students may be more aware of them this week.

"Just because the parents don't see an officer, or don't see a marked police vehicle there, doesn't mean there's not an officer there," Sheriff Jones said.

According to KCS attendance records, most schools had 90% or more of its students in class Monday afternoon.

The lowest percentage of attendance was 89% at four schools.

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