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KCS announces new security measures to enhance student safety

Superintendent Dr. Jon Rysewyk and Security Division Chief Jason Periard said KCS has launched the "Safe Schools, Safe Students" initiative.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knox County Schools announced new security measures that are being implemented to enhance student safety in the 2022-2023 academic year.

Superintendent Dr. Jon Rysewyk and Security Division Chief Jason Periard said KCS launched the "Safe Schools, Safe Students" initiative, a series of actions designed to provide a safe learning environment for students and staff.

Rysewyk said he asked the Knox County Sheriff's Office and the Knoxville Police Department to provide an annual audit of the district's school safety plan.  

According to a press release, KCS will take steps to increase its recruitment of military veterans as School Security Officers (SSOs).

Other steps included in the new security measures are:

  • An anonymous tip line that will be monitored seven days a week
  • Upgraded body cameras for school security officers
  • An integrated visitor screening system 
  • Upgraded video surveillance capabilities throughout the district

"Student safety is our most important responsibility, and I am very thankful that the Board of Education, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, and Knox County Commission approved $4.7 million in additional funding for school security this year," Rysewyk said. "This is a crucial investment, and it highlights our determination to protect our schools against potential threats to students, staff and families."

The additional funding will allow the district to add 22 positions to the Security Division, and KCS officials are working to recruit and retain outstanding SSOs. 

Rysewyk said the recently created Talent Acquisition team will focus on actively increasing the district's recruitment of military veterans and he is proposing an extension of paid 30-day military leave time for SSOs or other employees who are serving as reservists. 

“We are working proactively to identify outstanding SSO candidates with a commitment to our educational mission,” Periard said. "As a Marine Corps veteran myself, I understand the capabilities that reservists and veterans bring to the security profession, and I am confident that we will continue to attract high-quality officers for these new positions.”

Deputies and officers from KCSO and KPD serve as School Resource Officers in many district schools, supplementing the work of SSOs.

For more information, visit knoxschools.org/safeschools.

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