Tue, July 16

5 takeaways from School Safety Listening Session

Yavapai County Sherriff Scott Mascher

Yavapai County Sherriff Scott Mascher

— Administrative leaders of the Verde Valley and Yavapai County met Friday to talk about school safety amid recent mass shootings that have devastated American schools.  

“It’s horrible we have to meet to discuss such horrible things,” said Yavapai County Sherriff Scott Mascher. “This is about how we can talk to each other.”

Representatives from agencies across the county met in the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District building for the listening session. All three branches of government were in attendance.  

Yavapai County Superintendent Tim Carter said that all agencies have a piece in the issue.

“Schools don’t see the world as first responders … Teachers don’t see the world as law enforcement,” he said.

 Here are five takeaways from the listening session:

1. Early identification

Spotting warning signs of problematic behavior came up a lot in discussion during the session. Some noted that a lot of perpetrators in mass shootings already exhibited problems early on with their peers. Many encouraged more communication between agencies in detecting warning signs. 

2. Mental Health 

Representatives from mental health groups brought up that there was a strong link between homicidal and suicidal tendencies in youth. Many agreed that schools should take an active role in picking up signs of mental health issues as well as integrate good social skills in the classroom. 

Some suggested teaching self-efficacy over self-esteem. Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District was praised for implementing mindfulness training in classrooms.

3. Gun Reform

An elephant in the room was gun reform. While there were many things at play in recent mass shootings, some agreed that looking at gun legislation was important. 

4. Communication breakdown

Opening a flowing relationship between schools and community agencies is key according to Dwight D’Evelyn, YCSO Media Coordinator. 

“When a school provides early notification of a threat, it has a tremendous impact,” he said. 

5. School Funding

An overarching sentiment both educators and administrative leaders felt was the problem in education funding. While most agreed that implementing programs to foster a safe environment in schools is crucial, funding these programs is still a significant caveat. 

-- Follow Kelcie Grega on Twitter @KelcieGrega