Update on Safety and Security

Dr. Battle and Chief Drake Collaborating on School Safety
Posted on 08/02/2022
Dr. Adrienne Battle speaking at joint MNPS-MNPD Safety announcement

Dr. Adrienne Battle, Director of Metro Nashville Public Schools, provided the following update to students, families, and staff about the district's steps to ensure the safety and security of our school buildings when students return to campus on August 8: 

This morning Metro Police Chief John Drake and I announced some important updates to our school safety procedures as we prepare to start the new school year next Monday, August 8. After the tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in May, we doubled down on school security to protect our students and staff from outside threats and create an even safer and more secure learning environment. 

MNPD School Resource Officers continue to be assigned at the middle and high school levels to support teachers and administrators, work with students to encourage positive and productive behaviors, and provide support when a criminal justice response is warranted as a result of illegal activities by students. Due to policing shortages seen at MNPD and other agencies across the country, MNPD has created a plan to ensure coverage for each middle school on a rotating basis when there is not staffing capacity for a full-time presence in the building. 

Starting this school year, our elementary schools will receive additional attention and support from MNPD in the form of an officer assigned to each campus in the morning who can act as a visible presence to those seeking to do harm at the school along with regular visits throughout the day from on-duty MNPD officers for check-ins and support. Additionally, police will collaborate with MNPS on a safety ambassador program in our school buildings that will use retired police officers to help patrol the school and monitor for safety compliance while acting as a liaison between the school and the police department.

I think this approach strikes an appropriate balance between the desire for added safety and security and the need to avoid the criminalization of childhood behavior that could come from using a policing response to incidents instead of a restorative approach.

I’m grateful for Chief Drake’s willingness to dedicate MNPD resources to provide an extra layer of visibility and protection for our students through this partnership. Having an active-duty police officer on campus to keep an eye out for schools and provide a valuable point of contact for principals and administrators is going to go a long way in giving you and your students a greater level of confidence in your safety.

This added support enhances an already robust MNPS safety and security plan that meets or exceeds national standards and best practices, including:  

  • Annual emergency response planning through a collaboration between school administrators, MNPD and MNPS security. 
  • Classroom doors that open outward and lock from the inside to protect occupants in the event of a lockdown or active shooter incident. 
  • Networked security camera systems. 
  • Security vestibules in nearly all our schools that allow for an extra level of barrier and protection against an irate parent, community member, or active shooter. Using funds made available by the Metro Council and Mayor John Cooper, MNPS will be completing these projects at the remainder of our schools this year. 
  • Campus Support (formerly Campus Supervisor) positions within our schools receive training from MNPS security and serve to monitor for safety and security compliance throughout the day while providing support related to behavioral incidents when needed. These positions currently exist at the middle and high school levels, and MNPS is exploring expanding this program to the elementary level.

Meanwhile, we continue to make investments in restorative behavioral supports meant to keep students safe from normal school incidents such as bullying, fighting, disrupting classrooms, or other actions that prevent teachers from teaching and students from learning in a safe environment. This includes the creation of advocacy centers at all elementary schools, staffed by an advocacy specialist who can teach students how to regulate their responses to stressful situations so they can focus on learning and reduce behavioral incidents that require a disciplinary response. 

The district also has been adding Peace Centers throughout our middle and high schools. These centers will be staffed by restorative practice assistants, who will help to de-escalate situations before they start through restorative practices to help students and teachers resolve conflicts in conjunction with or instead of traditional disciplinary responses.

The safety and security of our students and staff is a critical priority and always top of mind for our district and schools. Every teacher, administrator, support staff employee, student, and parent, along with external community partners, plays an important role in keeping everyone safe, and I appreciate everyone’s attention to these concerns as we start another exciting year of teaching and learning.

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