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School board member says one component missing from school security discussion — public input

A board member said that the district's law enforcement policies cover a lot, but they're missing input from the community.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Since October, Knox County Schools board member Daniel Watson has been working on a proposal that will take a deeper look at how school security is handled across the district.

“One of the very first things that I did when I came on the school board was I wanted to learn more about how we did school safety and security,” said Watson. 

He said that he thinks Knox County Schools have plenty of law enforcement, but something is missing.  

“Our agreements that we've had over the years with them have not really been publicly influenced, or there's not been public engagement in drafting them,” he said. 

With the recent killing of student Anthony Thompson Jr. and persistent concerns about racial injustice, Watson thinks it's time for the school board, and the community, to talk about system agreements with police. 

“So I would hope that anything that ends up ultimately getting proposed and any changes that we make ends up reducing incidences of violence, reducing negative discipline practices, and things like that,” said Watson. 

The proposal is co-sponsored by Evetty Satterfield, a board member in District 1 which includes Austin-East high school. When the board meets on Wednesday, there is a key goal — to hear from the community on school security policies.

“I've had many parents who have special needs children in different schools who have said this is something we want to be able to speak into,” said Watson.