WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Principals, mental health professionals and officers met with members of the House Select Committee on school safety, Friday October 19 in Wilmington.
Creating a safe space to learn is a priority for New Hanover county as the the 12th largest school district in the state with more than 26,000 students.
New Hanover County Schools Superintendent Tim Markley says safety is a two part system and both physical safety and mental health safety must be protected. School resources officers (SROs) are a key element.
“It is so important that SROs be in every school and be associated with the kids so that they get to see a positive influence and role model of… law enforcement,” said New Hanover County Chief Deputy Sheriff Sarvis.
One New Hanover High School senior says the SROs make her feel more comfortable.
“Not only do they provide the safety for us but most of them actually try to communicate with the students and don’t just stand around…being the bad people,” said NHHS Senior Tais Aguirre-Ibarra. “They actually go and participate with us.”
Aguirre-Ibarra says her school campus is spread out and she’s worried how easy it is for someone to talk onto the school property.
“She brought a very obvious story to us about physical security of the school,” said Rep. Holly Grange. “I think that is what the biggest concern is for a lot of these students.”
New Hanover High Schools have 3 SROs but they are pushing to get more and more school nurses.
Each high school has only one nurse and nurses can be the first source in identifying mental health issues.