Local student, Sheriff Jones discuss concerns about safety in schools

Patty Scott (left) poses with her daughter, Erika Scott, (center) and Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones at a press conference held Thursday morning. Erika discussed concerns regarding school safety in light of the recent incident in Parkland, Florida.
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Patty Scott (left) poses with her daughter, Erika Scott, (center) and Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones at a press conference held Thursday morning. Erika discussed concerns regarding school safety in light of the recent incident in Parkland, Florida.

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones and 15-year-old Hamilton High School sophomore Erika Scott held a press conference Thursday morning at the Sheriff’s Office to discuss issues surrounding school safety.

In the aftermath of the Valentine’s Day school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. that left 17 people dead, many students have voiced concerns about school safety, which led to a National Student Walkout Day on Wednesday.

READ MORE: 7 things that stood out when dozens of local students gathered to discuss school security

“She wants to be heard and she is going to tell her story about school security or the lack of school security,” Jones explained at the beginning of the news conference. “We all know with the shooting that happened in Florida, sometimes school boards move extremely slow. She wants to be heard and she hasn’t been heard. That is the issue here.”

MORE: What local students are doing for today’s National Walk Out for school safety and gun control

Last month, in the wake of the Parkland, Fla. school shooting, Jones announced he would offer CCW basic training classes for teachers and school employees interested free of charge. Hundreds signed up.

Scott decided to contact Jones, as well as the school board and State Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, to discuss her concerns about how to keep her school safer and other security issues.

MORE: Here’s what area schools have done to boost security measures

“I want people to know that there are serious issues that need to be addressed regarding security at school,” she said. “I want change and the board to do something immediately, not next year, and I want them to acknowledge the problem.”

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Scott added that security in the schools has become more important than developing new academic programs and that resources now must be handled to make that a mission that can be accomplished.

MORE: Power to the parents: Keeping kids calm about school threats

The board responded to Scott’s letter by saying that the message would be “passed on” for future discussion, and Retherford said that he has been in receipt of the letter as well as many from other students. he said he has been in touch with school officials to schedule a sitdown meeting with all interested parties involved to discuss concerns.

He said instead of going back and forth with each letter writer – especially since some had contact information and others did not – he reached out to Hamilton Principal John Wilhelm to set up a time to talk with these students, calling it “one of the easiest and best ways” to contact all of these students.

His last contact with Wilhelm was mid-afternoon on Thursday.

“They deserve a sit-down discussion,” Retherford said. “All of the letters had some issues concerning school safety, but some went further about the overall state of school policy. It was really encouraging they took the time to write about this as well.”

Some of the other ideas the letter-writers expressed ranged from increasing police officers, allowing teachers to carry weapons, gun bans, only allowing those 21 and older to purchase weapons and increasing mental health care.

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