ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County Schools are auditing their safety measures following last month’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The audit is being conducted by RCS Director of Operations Dennis Quick and the system’s school resource officer team, with support from local law enforcement, to determine what steps can be taken to tighten security, according to Superintendent Cindy Goodman.
“School safety has always been our highest priority,” Goodman said. “Of course, following the Parkland shooting, we renewed our efforts to keep our schools as as safe as possible.”
Auditors will review security measures for the interior and exterior of school property, along with options for surveillance, alarm systems and key control, among others, according Public Information Officer Briana Goins. The results will be applied to all system schools.
Some security improvements suggested in the early phases of the audit are already being implemented. Doors that require visitors to “buzz in” to enter, coupled with cameras, have been installed at some schools — with the goal of being system-wide — and the lighting throughout the schools has been upgraded, according to Goins.
All system schools practice “active shooter” drills twice a year, and law enforcement agencies use schools to stage tactical training drills, according to Goodman. The superintendent added that after national events like the Parkland shooting, schools often see an uptick in students making threatening statements. All threats are reported to law enforcement.
Sheriff James Clemmons said that the Parkland shooting did not illuminate any security weaknesses that have not already been taken into account in the RCS security plan.
“The school system has been very proactive in finding the best ways to keep students safe,” Clemmons said.
The sheriff’s office is actively involved in the audit. Clemmons was unable to share details of certain security protocols that are under consideration, but said he is in support of the school system’s efforts to ensure safety of students.
“If there’s a call, we shall respond just like we’ve always done,” he said.
The most recent threat to RCS came in January when a Richmond Senior High School student insinuated via Snapchat that he would bring a gun to school in the aftermath of a fight and shooting that occurred the previous weekend. The school identified the students involved, but did not disclose the disciplinary actions taken against the students at the time.
The audit began Feb. 26 and is scheduled to conclude at the end of April.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]