Rausch: Security meeting offers 'no substance' in public

7:31 PM, Feb 26, 2013   |    comments
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Knox County School Board Chair Karen Carson postponed a key meeting Tuesday with many of Knox County's top school and safety officials after some called for the meeting to be opened to the public.

With so much of the drama surrounding possible security problems at two Knox County schools playing out in the media, Carson told commissioners Monday she wanted an opportunity to get everyone on the same page.

She's invited the county mayor, law director, sheriff, superintendent city police chief, Public Building Authority CEO, and a member of commission to participate.

So why is this meeting important?

Monday commissioners questioned McIntyre and Carson about the extent to which recent school security issues have been resolved.

There were concerns that McIntyre and Carson had overstated  how well things were working. That's after a security audit revealed some issues, especially at Hardin Valley Academy and Powell Middle School.

McIntyre commissioners right now all of the school district's surveillance systems are working. McIntyre also said key-less entryway systems at the two problem schools are fixed.

But he says some of the equipment was never up to their standards- that's why there's a lawsuit against the installer.

Monday Carson said she hoped to hold a meeting in private with top officials to give everyone a chance to speak candidly about their concerns.

But Tuesday morning, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett called on Carson to change her mind.

"Part of the problem is they haven't been talking to the public enough about it," said Burchett. "And when they leave these closed door meetings everybody says 'well they said this, they said this' and there's no verification of anything."

He says with 62 percent of the county's budget going to the school system, they owe taxpayers more accountability.

"It's an ego issue, nobody wants to admit they're wrong," says Burchett.

But Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch says if they truly want to have a frank discussion about security, the meeting needs to be private.

"There's no substance going to be talked [in an open meeting]. We can not discuss those kind of things in an open forum because, you know, you're opening yourself up to allowing people to know what possible situations are there- if there are any- that could cause danger," said Rausch.

Rausch also said KPD has had their experts evaluate school security and says McIntyre has implemented their suggestions on proper lighting and locking.

He says they've also inspected video surveillance equipment.

Rausch wouldn't go so far as to say that everything is in absolute perfect working order, but deemed the schools "safe."

He won't be at the meeting on Friday. The chief says he's headed to Nashville to deal with legislative issues and plans to send a deputy chief to sit in his place.

The meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday on the ground floor of the Andrew Johnson Building.

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