TN Valley schools reflect in wake of PA stabbings - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

TN Valley schools reflect in wake of PA stabbings

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Area schools have beefed up security procedures since the 2010 Discovery Middle School shooting. Area schools have beefed up security procedures since the 2010 Discovery Middle School shooting.

The staff of Discovery Middle School can relate to the shock involved in an on-campus tragedy, like Wednesday's stabbing attack at a Pennsylvania school.

Four years ago, Madison City Schools dealt with a fatal shooting at Discovery. Superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler said the district learned a number of lessons that day, but none was more important than keeping the lines of communication open with students.

Dr. Fowler said his prayers are with those at the school in Pennsylvania. "There are a lot of parents there that need all the love that they can get," he said.

Fowler knows how deeply the parents in Murrysville are hurting. He vividly remembers that day in February 2010 when Hammad Memon fired a gunshot that took the life of Todd Brown. In the four years since, Fowler has beefed up security at his schools.

The school system also initiated a new proactive program called "Text to Protect," which allows students to confidentially text any concern they have to officials, and it is working. "Any text that we have ever received has always panned out to be true," said Dr. Fowler.

The district has also hired more school resource officers. He said the specially-trained officers are easy to talk to and are trusted among students. "I think the key is being proactive, not reactive with the communications and awareness and teaming in the community so everyone is working together for the safety of the children," said Fowler.

Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Dr. Casey Wardynski takes security very seriously at his schools. Ever since he took the helm of the system in 2011, the number of reported arrests on his campuses have been in steady decline.

"We do everything to make the school as safe as possible. Schools are traditionally one of the safest environments," said Dr. Wardynski. "We look for what happens in the classroom; also what may happen outside of the classroom environment."

Huntsville City Schools have a former FBI agent monitoring social media to make sure their students are safe. They also embrace an initiative called "No Place for Hate."

"... to promote the positive aspects and try to remove those things from the students' line of thinking that may be negative," explained Wardynski.

The Huntsville system also has metal detectors and security cameras that are monitored 24/7, as well as 40 security officers and 20 school resource officers on campus.

"The environment is set up the way it is to encourage individuals not to make bad choices," said Dr. Wardynski.

Spokesperson Keith Ward said he hopes all of Huntsville City Schools' campuses will be "No Place for Hate" certified by the end of the year.

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