Attorney General Troy King presented the Alabama Safe Schools 2008 Awards of Excellence during visits to two Valley schools.
Brookhaven Middle School in Decatur and Cedar Ridge Middle School in Decatur received their awards today.
"We are reminded of the need for continued vigilance, as we recall the alarming instances of recent violence in our nation's schools," said Attorney General King. "While these events are deeply disturbing to us, I am reassured by the commitment exhibited by these schools in Alabama to keep our children safe in the face of the severe challenges we face today. In my own days as a young student, I remember the stress of trying to make good grades and of dealing with classes and classmates. Thankfully, we were spared the stress of shootings that killed and maimed students and teachers, and we did not have to worry about such horror happening at our schools. We must work together to do everything possible to protect our children from these dangers and fears."
Attorney General King praised Alabama's schools, proclaiming that their students "no longer have to worry about what your school will do. Your school is prepared, and good preparation leads to prevention."
Attorney General King noted Alabama's progress statewide to protect schoolchildren and teachers. "For the past nine years, the Office of Attorney General has sponsored the Alabama Safe Schools Initiative. Following the nation's worst incident of violence on school property at Columbine High School in Colorado, the Alabama Departments of Education and Public Safety worked with my office to provide the state's public and private schools with resources that would help them create a team of community resources and expertise that are, in my opinion, crucial to school safety efforts."
The Alabama Safe Schools Initiative began its presentations of Awards of Excellence in 2002. This year, an independent panel of law enforcement and emergency response officers, teachers and school administrators selected 11 schools to be honored from among 56 nominations.
Brookhaven Middle School and Cedar Ridge Middle School in Decatur were the only two Valley schools to receive honors this year.
The Alabama Safe School Initiative has worked to assist schools in their safety efforts for many years. In August of 2000, the program distributed to all public and private schools standardized school emergency crisis notebooks to provide uniform guidelines for use in preparing their own emergency response plans. A toll-free Alabama Safe Schools hotline (1-888-SAV-KIDS) was implemented in April of 1999 as a way for students and adults to anonymously alert officials about potential crisis situations. The Alabama Safe Schools Initiative used the slogan "Prevent School Violence: It's Cool to Make the Call" to promote the hotline through public service announcements, billboard advertisements, book covers and posters.
In addition, the Attorney General's Office hosted a statewide conference for training school and community officials to create an integrated crisis management plan. Later, at an intensive national workshop on school safety preparedness, education workers, parents, law enforcement officers, and others were trained to return to the communities and teach others how to effectively handle a crisis situation.