The Corinth School District is holding several focus groups on school safety as it moves toward finalizing a plan for increased security.
Meetings with students, parents and teachers are planned in the coming week to gather feedback as the district begins to formulate a job description for new security personnel. Because of COVID, plans for a single large meeting have been dropped.
Among the options for security workers, the district appears to favor school resource officers.
Superintendent Lee Childress on Thursday told the Board of Trustees the district will be looking to the security personnel to do more than just patrol the schools. It is expected they would do things such as a drug education program, school safety assessments and serve as a liaison with other agencies, while developing relationships with students and parents along the way.
Board Attorney Bill Davis has researched some of the legal issues such as how having officers on campus would affect the district’s ability to conduct searches of students’ property.
While some of these issues haven’t been fully vetted in the courts, “The trend seems to be that legislatures and the courts are more on the side of permitting and encouraging law enforcement under the guise of the school leadership,” said Davis.
A school resource officer must be at least 23 years old and have three years of law enforcement experience, along with law enforcement training and bonding. These officers would amount to the district’s own private police force, said Davis, and the officers essentially have the same authority as a constable. They can make arrests and carry a gun.
The district is also looking at issues such as whether to provide vehicles for the officers and how their hours and compensation will be handled.
The other options which are looking less likely are to contract with the city to provide officers, hire an independent security agency or designate security officers who would neither carry a gun nor have law enforcement authority.
In other business:
• Several resignations for retirement came to the board – CHS teachers Becky Brawner and Chuck Carpenter and cafeteria worker Tela Hill.
• The board gave approval for alumni to proceed with a memorial marker for the late tennis coach Lynn Wood. A memorial scholarship is also being organized.
• The board approved an agreement with Skill Foundations, which will provide an additional career coach at CHS.