Safety in our schools: Fulton County
FULTON COUNTY, KY- With summer break nearing its end, Kia Smith is spending some time in the gym practicing for the upcoming basketball season.
Her mom, Samantha, and 4-year-old brother sat on the sidelines watching.
“I played ball when I was in high school, so I enjoy it a lot. Plus, it’s something that she loves to do, so whatever she loves to do, I love to see her do it,” Samantha said.
Samantha said it took a while to get back to normalcy. A deadly school shooting in a nearby community left her daughter nervous about coming back.
“It was one of those things. I didn’t even want her to. I didn’t care if she came back to school or not. I’m not even going to lie. She was like ‘Momma, I don’t want to go back to school,’ and I was like ‘Well baby, you don’t have to go,’ because I didn’t want to send her where she was uncomfortable. With what happened there, who knows where it may happen at,” Samantha said.
The day of the Marshall County High School shooting, Kia was in class at Fulton County High School.
“I was scared. I was just scared, because I thought it was going to happen here next,” Kia said.
She said she immediately texted her mom to tell her she loves her.
“Maybe it could’ve happened here, and I wanted to make sure she knew I loved her,” Kia said.
Aaron Collins is the superintendent of Fulton County Schools. He said his district made some changes to protect children and put parents at ease.
One of those is increasing visibility for administrators and officers through security cameras.
“It’s preventive, proactive measures of safety to make sure that everyone feels comfortable at school,” Collins said.
School leaders in Fulton County say egress and access are two crucial factors in keeping your child safe. That’s why the district has fenced in open areas to keep potential and unwanted dangers away from students.
There will also be an increase in police presence at the school.
Sheriff Derek Goodson said his office is working on trying to get a school resource officer program for the school district. Until then, the department is working with the deputies it has to carry out bag checks.
“We’re going to do everything that we can to get out here, and make sure that these students are safe, and make sure that we have a connection to the school so that we’re not just driving down the road saying ‘Forget the school’s even up there.’ We want to make sure we have a presence up here and that we’re talking to students,” Goodson said.
Hickman Police Chief Tony Grogan said the small moments officers have with each student give them the opportunity to look for warning signs and get help to those who need it.
“We greet them, talk to them, try to get to know them. You know? Small talk. I pat them down for weapons, but I talk to them when I do it, I don’t make it about just that. We treat them with respect,” Grogan said.
It’s these security measures that make Kia and her mom a little less nervous as Kia steps back in the classroom this school year.
“We have more people here to keep us safe,” she said.
“They’re not supposed to be worried if they’ll be able to walk out of that door alive. Or, they’re not supposed to be worried if someone is going to come through and take their life, or their brother’s life, or their friend’s life. When they come to school, they’re supposed to be focused on their education,” Samantha said.
With the increase in security, Samantha believes her daughter and others will be able to do just that.
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