NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Governor Bill Lee released a video Tuesday about his school safety initiative that he first announced back in June. Arguably the most notable nugget Lee mentioned is that the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) will be occasionally checking in on schools.
“Our Tennessee Highway Patrol Troopers are building stronger relationships with school leadership in their area,” Lee said. “They’re also doing more frequent, unannounced checks to see that school doors latch and precautions are in place.”
News 2 also reached out to Lee’s office to ask if any other agencies will be providing random checks. They wrote back, “The State Fire Marshal’s Office, housed within the Department of Commerce and Insurance, is performing unannounced checks to see that school doors latch and proper safety precautions are in place.” That’s in addition to THP.
The new check-ins come after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, last May. The Tennessee Education Association (TEA) says it appreciates the new measures.
“We are always wanting to ensure the students are safe,” TEA president Tanya Coats said. “If they’re not safe at school, then we’re not safe at school as educators.”
Another point of note from Lee was a financial one.
“The Tennessee Department of Education has asked to use the remaining federal relief funds that we have for school safety,” Lee said. “While we are awaiting response from the federal government, we are hopeful that these additional dollars can be used to protect our students and our teachers.”
The TEA objected to the fact that the funding was going to safety and not the hiring crisis across the state.
“That’s unfortunate that the extra funds are not being utilized to help with the mental health of our students,” Coats said. “That means that we are not having enough staff in our schools.”