School safety topic of state House roundtable in Brownsville

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BROWNSVILLE – Carmichaels Area School District isn’t ready to make its buildings appear like prisons in response to the Valentine’s Day mass shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Carmichaels Superintendent John Menhart said the district doesn’t have metal detectors and wants the children there to have outdoor recesses.

“We want the kids to go to the playground,” Menhart said Tuesday during a roundtable discussion with members of the state House Policy Committee.

“We want the school to be a school. We’re not an airport,” he said at the meeting in Brownsville Elementary School hosted by state Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Jefferson.

A handful of local officials addressed the state representatives on efforts to build better bonds with students to increase security and creating staging areas in preparation of an attacker.

Brownsville Superintendent Keith Harbauer said public schools need to do a better job of having mental health support programs in place.

“The whole gambit on mental health is a major, major issue,” Harbauer said.

He said Brownsville has a mentoring program in place for the students to “have a sense of belonging and know that someone cares about them.”

He said there is a “fine line” between taking steps to ensure the students are safe and making the buildings appear as if they are prisons.

“There is not enough time to deal with what we have to do,” he added.

Brownsville received two metal detectors through a corporate donation, and they are used at the middle and high schools. Efforts are underway to place one at the new elementary school, Harbauer said.

The state has created a new school safety task force to better gauge what is happening in districts, said Carol Kuntz, director of the Safe Schools Office at the state Department of Education.

State Rep. Mark Longietti of Hermitage said schools need to be more tapped in to monitoring students who do not graduate to determine whether they pose a safety risk after they leave public education.

“We know there are troubled students who drop out… and there doesn’t seem to be any follow up,” Longietti said.

“It’s sad that we have to have a conversation like this,” Snyder added.


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