NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – School safety was a big topic of conversation among members of MNPS school board during Tuesday’s meeting.

Director of Schools Dr. Adrienne Battle said while they want to have transparency when it comes to letting the community know about school safety, they’re also not going to reveal all their protocols and risk that information getting to people who could pose a threat.

This all comes in light of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Texas. It’s been three weeks now since a gunman went into a classroom and killed 19 children and two teachers. Since then school districts across the country have been trying to reassure families that safety measures are in place. On the night of the Uvalde shooting, Dr. Battle said they were in contact with MNPD Chief John Drake about what next steps are in place to ensure last days of school continue without incident and they’ve been in discussions ever since about ways to keep schools safe.

“We’ve been installing security vestibules throughout our district and this has been a recurring request in the capital improvement budget,” Dr. Battle said. “They are in nearly all of our schools with a few left to go that will be priortized over the summer and into the 2022-23 school year for completion. We’ve installed AI phones at our entrances to ensure someone in the office can hear and see who is requesting to come into their building.”

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She said school security is collaboration between different departments and agencies. School staff all work together to have proper supervision during transition times, they’re working to stop conflicts before they escalate, have restorative practices, and responding quickly when incidents occur. The MNPS security department rotates throughout the district daily and responds to incidents when they happen, providing guidance and support and answering questions.

Dr. Battle explained that MNPD is also invovled through the school resource officer program. At launch of promising scholars, she said MNPD committed to increasing their presence at these locations by having sros or other officers visit or patrol at key times. While the police department has seen staffing shortages just like any other public or private entity, Battle said they are committed to working to find staff to make sure every school is covered. Dr. Battle added that the police department want to provide additional active shooting and SRO training to selected school-based or security staff.

Additionally, she added that the student parent handbook will also have important information this upcoming year about the importance of gun safety and locking them up.

Some school board members were also asking about implementing additional safety measures.

“I have been asked more recently, probably because of the recent experiences if we’re going to require clear backpacks which is a why or why not and they would like to know about ongoing concerns about for metal decectors,” said board member Rachael Anne Elrod.

Dr. Battle responded saying there were privacy concerns with clear backpacks and that there’s been research about them being ineffective. Additionally there were concerns about how metal detectors would impact the school environment.

“I think as we’re talking about the safety and security of our students and our staff and our learning communities in general it’s important that we, yes, implement best practices but we do everything that we can to maintain a welcoming, enriching learning environment for our students and for everyone else,” Battle said.

There were also questions about whether thermal cameras that are now used to identify people and check temperatures… should be upgraded to scan for weapons.

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“It’s a system where a student has a badge as they have now and they scan as they come in and the machine pretty much scans the body for any metal and it was not anything intimidating, it was pretty cool with the lights,” said school board member Fran Bush. “If anyone was carying metals, guns…. so I’m just curious as to why we’re not looking.”

Dr. Battle reiterated throughout the meeting that while no ideas are off the table, district staff and Metro police have been exploring many options.

“When you’re talking about scanning one student at a time when hundreds of students are coming in and the threat that that also presents. There is some cost-effectiveness concens as well so lots of operational concerns that our team has been digging into to see if it would be appropriate and a best practice for us to implement.”

One main priority is also making sure school doors remain locked and are not propped open.

“I am a parent that saw something and I said something but I am sure that if this is also happening in my son’s school it’s happening in other places where doors are propped open. Let’s handle it,” said parent Tamela Ensrud.

Dr. Battle said they’re encouraging everyone to speak up if they see safety protocols being broken.

“My team will tell if you if I walk through any of our facilities and I see a door propped open I’m the first one to kick the rock out of the door and figure out why there was a rock in the door so we will respond promptly and I will encourage.. and will continue to communicate this particularly as we move back into the school year.. to do just that,” Dr. Battle said.

School board member Gini Pupo-Walker commented on the district having other measures in place to help with students’ mental health and having an supportive school environment overall.

“I recognize that we have to have safe buildings and cameras and all those things but it’s really about the community that you build in a school and I know from working in a high school, the tips that come about potential danger come from students if they trust adults, if they trust leaders in their buildings,” said Pupo-Walker. “That is where it matters the most so I appreciate that we’re bringing in staff and systems and supports to create more of that trust.”