‘Their safety matters to us’: School systems see rise in incidents, concerns over keeping students safe

School Watch

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Incidents of violence in schools are rising recently. There was a shooting in Texas on Wednesday, and two in North Carolina just recently.

Here in Eastern North Carolina, a violent fight broke out at D.H. Conley High School last week and a gun was found in a student’s backpack at South Central High School on Wednesday.

On Monday, there was also a report of a gun in the backpack of a Kindergarten student in Robeson County.

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Superintendents from Beaufort County and Greene County have been monitoring these headlines. Both agree safety of their students and staff is the number one priority.

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“I think they’re important long before the headlines,” said Beaufort County Superintendent Matthew Cheeseman. “Their safety matters to us, we must demonstrate that and respond to that.”

Beaufort County Schools had to put its safety drills to practice in late September when P.S. Jones Middle School received threats of a bomb on campus. They bused students to safety where they were picked up by family members.

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“That is really the end goal,” said Cheeseman. “Families have their loved ones back and employees go back home to their loved ones, that’s the outcome we are seeking.”

Beaufort County and Greene County both have similar safety protocols when it comes to practicing drills with faculty and staff.

“Administrators, faculty and staff are required to go under annual staff for active shooter on campus,” said Greene County Superintendent Patrick Miller.

Greene County also has an Active Defender phone app that alerts all faculty of any activity on school campuses, but Miller said they’re lacking one important thing right now, school resource officers.

“We are budgeted for four officers, but currently we only have one resource officer,” Miller said. “It makes everyone feel better when the law enforcement officers are there to provide support and back up to staff.”

Both superintendents say without school safety, their students won’t be as successful.

“Not just as a superintendent but as a parent, I want to make sure my child comes back better than when I dropped her off at campus,” Cheeseman said. “Safety matters and that is the number one thing for our students, educators and community.”

“If basic safety needs are not met, students and staff will not feel comfortable in school, which hinder their ability to learn which is why they’re in school in the first place,” Miller said.

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