Arkansas School Safety Commission Homework Due Next Month

Oct 22, 2018

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaking at Monday's meeting of the Arkansas School Safety Commission meeting. (Left to Right: Asa Hutchinson, Bill Temple, Murray Britton, David Hopkins, Brad Montgomery, Dawn Anderson, John Allison)
Credit David Monteith / KUAR News

A final report of recommendations for protecting Arkansas school children and personnel is set to be completed next month.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who created the Arkansas School Safety Commission in March, spoke at their meeting Monday and gave some feedback on the draft of their recommendations.

“I like the direction to have a security coordinator in each school. And you have put a plan in place that’s unique to that school. And your recommendations enhanced the training and coordination with local law enforcement,” Hutchinson said.

The group’s preliminary report was shared with superintendents prior to the start of the school year. Since then, members of the commission have been reviewing safety measures used by schools in Arkansas and around the country in preparation for making a final report to the governor on November 30.

Committee member Jami Cook, director of the Commission on Law Enforcement and Training, proposed a list of suggestions for the committee to review related specifically to emergency communication policies.

“School districts, in collaboration with other local and law enforcement agencies should implement and expand a strategy to promote reporting to include anonymous reporting of suspicious activity, behavior, and threats,” said Cook.

Other items discussed at the meeting included the installation of bulletproof, or “ballistic rated” glass in school windows, and fences around school property. Requiring an armed officer or arming school personnel have been discussed in the past, and may be a point of contention if included in the final report. November’s final version is expected to be a list of suggestions rather than requirements. However, schools scheduled for future construction may be required to implement many of the safety features.

During the meeting, the governor proclaimed October 21-27 as Arkansas Safe Schools Week.