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10News Investigation: Are your schools safer this year?

2:23 PM, Jul 26, 2013   |    comments
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(WBIR - Knoxville) We are taking a sweeping look at school security changes in districts across East Tennessee.

School shootings, especially Sandy Hook where 20 students died last December, helped drive a deeper conversation about how districts can do a better job keeping kids safe at school.

10News contacted the following school districts to discuss each of their security personnel plan for the upcoming school year: Alcoa City, Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Cumberland, Fentress, Greene, Hawkins, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Maryville City, McMinn, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Scott, Sevier.

The majority of schools we talked to employ school resource officers, known as SROs, to monitor activity within the schools and handle any disturbances.

As of the time of this story, the following districts had gotten back to us about their security measures:

Knox County Schools - First day of class: August 14

  • 92 School Security Officers: one officer per school
  • 47 of them were hired this summer and are currently participating in training
  • In the process of implementing new generation camera systems and school access control at each school

Loudon County Schools -- First day of class: August 7

  • 9 SROs: one officer per school
  • 4 of them were hired this summer
  • In the process of professional development for administrators to conduct "armed intruder drills" in each school

Source: Jason Vance, Director of Schools

Cumberland County Schools - First day of class: August 7

  • 6 total SROs
  • 4 new SROs added this year: 1 for Brown Elementary and South Elementary, 1 for Pine View K-8 and Crab Orchard K-8, 1 for North Elementary and Pleasant Hill Elementary, 1 for Stone Elementary and Homestead Elementary
  • 1 at each high school
  • If grant money comes in, another additional SRO will be added
  • Each school has a buzzer entry system

Jefferson County - First day of class: August 8

  • 7 total SROs
  • 1 assigned to each high school
  • 1 will be at Patriot Academy
  • 1 assigned to each middle school
  • 1 at each of the district's K-8 schools
  • *Planning to add SROs in each of the elementary schools, dependent upon county commission's budget
  • The officers are currently paid through split funding where most of the funds are reimbursed by the sheriff's department while a few are paid through the school budget.

Source: Mandy Schneitman, Director of Student Support Services

Campbell County - First day of class: August 12

  • 6 total SROs
  • 2 assigned to Campbell County High, 1 assigned to Jellico High
  • 1 at LaFollette Middle, 1 at Jacksborro Middle
  • 1 at Jellico Elementary (K-8)
  • Currently pursuing funding to get more officers for the district schools.
  • If additional funding doesn't happen, Sheriff may assign deputies to use available office space in each of the schools to do their daily paperwork.

Source: Larry Nidiffer, Secondary Education Supervisor

Anderson County - First day of class: August 7

  • 8 total SROs
  • 3 have specific school assignments (Clinton High, Anderson County High, and the alternative school)
  • Remaining SROs rotate between schools with no set schedule but try to have officers walk through each school 2 to 3 times a day
  • 1 of the SROs has a canine that is trained for tracking and detecting drugs
  • The SROs are currently funded half by the school system and half by the Sheriff.
  • *Board is on the record looking for more funding to add 4 additional SROs, specifically for the district's more rural schools.

Source: Joe Forgety, Director of Safety

Hancock County - First day of class: August 5

  • 2 total SROs
  • 1 stationed at each of the district's two schools
  • School district pays for the SROs

Source: Brenda Dalton, Finance Director


Fentress County - First day of class: August 8

  • Does not have SROs
  • Has an agreement with Fentress County Sheriff's Office and local police to monitor the schools
  • In the process of improving security with new entrance procedures

Source: Mike Jones, Director of Schools

Scott County - First day of class: August 8

  • 3 total SROs
  • 1 assigned to the high school
  • 2 others spread throughout the remaining schools
  • SROs funded by the Sheriff's Department

Source: Bill Hall, Director of Schools

Greene County - First day of class: August 9

  • 4 total security personnel
  • Each one assigned to a different district high school
  • Previously considered having the security roaming between schools but district says the greatest need is at the high schools
  • Personnel get sent to other schools if there's an incident

Source: Vicki Kirk, Director of Schools

Hawkins County - First day of class: August 5

  • 5 total SROs
  • 1 at each of the schools with older children:  Volunteer High School, Cherokee High School and Clinch school (K-12)
  • 2 SROs shared between the middle schools
  • Sheriff's Department pays for two of the SROs, school system pays for 3 others
  • District Director says they'd ideally like one in every school, but it's a matter of funding so trying to phase them in

Source: Charlotte Britton, Director of Schools

Cocke County - First day of class: August 1

  • 3 total SROs
  • 1 at each high school: Cocke County High School, Cosby K-12
  • 1 that rotates between the 9 elementary schools
  • Sheriff Armando Fontes recruited off duty and at least one retired officer to be in the elementary schools.  They operate on a rotating schedule of times and schools.  They are law enforcement trained, but do not have the same requirements as a full-time SRO.

Source: Casey Kelley, Assistant Director of Schools

Hamblen County -

  • 6 full time SROs: 1 at Morristown Hamblen High School West, 1 at Morristown Hamblen High Schools East, 1 at West View Middle, Meadowview Middle, Lincoln Heights Middle, West View Middle
  • Agreement with Morristown Police Department to periodically conduct on duty walk-throughs
  • Buzzer entries, secure forces to go through the office in all buildings

Source: Hugh Blement, Assistant Director of Schools

Roane County - First day of class: August 12

  • 6 full time SROs: 1 at Rockwood High School, 1 at Harriman High School, 1 at Roane County High School, 1 at Midway High School, 1 at alternative school, 1 rotating between all elementary and middle schools
  • Over the summer, renovated security systems
  • Every school has a buzzer with camera, must be allowed into the building
  • All entrances force whoever enters to the building to go through the office

Maryville City Schools - First day of class: July 31

  • 1 full time SRO at Maryville High School
  • Added a buzzer with camera to each school
  • Added "secure entrances" that force whoever enters through the office before entering the building at each school


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