School safety the topic of New Hanover County roundtable

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) –Keeping New Hanover County schools safe, a topic that brought together numerous leaders from the community.

They met to focus on and address the concerns New Hanover County Commissioners, judges, law enforcement and school leaders have about safety.

Sheriff Ed McMahon stressed the importance and significance of School Resource Officers. McMahon said there are several program in place to train SROs, a program that is essential and necessary.

McMahon said ideally, he would like more resources available at school, he’s open to more officers or even former army personnel.

“Can we get some law enforcement maybe even some former military who have that, we talked about it earlier, they have more of that warrior mind set and can we implement them in so that we do have some more eyes on only basically safety,” McMahon said.

County manager Chris Coudriet touched on the importance of mental health, which others agreed with and echoed his concern.

New Hanover County Board of Education Chairman Ed Higgins said if necessary, they will suspend and expel students, but he wants to work on creating a safe environment in the schools.

Wanda Marino, with New Hanover County Department of Social Services, says it requires proper resources, mental health resources, which are lacking throughout our community.

“Unless these kids get a specific diagnosis, they will fall through the cracks and continue to hurt,” Marino said.

County Commissioner Woody White brought up a program to help kids who are showing neglect or other problems. White says he knows how parents feel right now.

“You hope and you think and you expect and you deserve to know that they’re safe. Not going to get shot. Not getting in trouble with a dangerous violent situation. And so as a parent, I still think about that every single day,” White said.

Parents were happy to see officials were paying attention, but some say the community needs to help too.

“We need people outside of those who do serving and who do the work everyday to step up. And that’s something we need to really try to start focusing on is what can we as a community do separate from what the professionals are already doing,” a parent Leslie Smiley, said.

“There needs to be better integration to serve those needs… I want to know how to break some of those barriers down, ” White said.

On the subject of mental health, DSS says it would require the proper resources, which our community is lacking right now. But it requires collaboration from the other parts of the county.

Also, North Carolina superintendent Mark Johnson wants to hear from public school teachers about what they think about having guns in the classroom. An e-mail sent out to teachers earlier today included a link to a survey about the issue.

Categories: Local, New Hanover