School Safety | St. Louis Public Radio

School Safety

Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Middle and high school students in the Ferguson-Florissant School District will have to shove books, binders and calculators into clear backpacks as part of an overhauled security plan district officials announced Wednesday. 

And all of Ferguson-Florissant’s 10,600 students will see more police and security officers when they arrive for the first day of school Thursday.

Dianne Gordon, a mom who lives in Champaign, knew something was wrong with her daughter Rory the minute she stepped off the school bus one afternoon in April. 

Several Missouri school districts arm their employees to prevent mass shootings. More schools in the state are considering it following a school shooting last month.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Every Missouri public school should employ armed protection to keep children safe from active shooters.

That is the main takeaway from a report released Wednesday by a task force formed by Gov. Mike Parson in March to improve school safety. A federal panel spent much of 2018 conducting a similar review of school safety measures and released its report in December.

Several Missouri school districts arm their employees to prevent mass shootings. More schools in the state are considering it following a school shooting last month.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri law adopted four years ago to arm school staff was used for the first time this summer. It’s a step one school district took to increase security after a debate on protecting students flared this year.

The school massacre in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead in February kicked off a nationwide debate over arming teachers to protect against future attacks. This summer one Missouri school sent two employees through a certified police academy training program to become authorized School Protection Officers, allowing them to carry concealed firearms on school grounds, according to the Department of Public Safety.

Belleville West High School is about 10 miles west of East St. Louis Senior High.
File | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Belleville police arrested a male student Wednesday morning they considered a threat to other Belleville East High School students.

Belleville Township High School Superintendent Jeff Dosier canceled what was supposed to be the last day of school at both East and West campuses around 6:30 a.m. Police notified the district of the threat, which Dosier said police considered to be “credible.”

Natalie Heath, of Marquette High School, cheers as St. Louis-area high school students speak at a protest outside Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley's office in downtown St. Louis. April 20, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

High school students from across the St. Louis region took part in another day of action Friday to call for improved school safety and tighter gun control measures.

The protest fell on the 19th anniversary of the school shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, where 13 people were killed. Many consider that event the moment when mass school shootings entered Americans’ consciousness. The Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland, Florida, has rocketed student activists to the center of the debate over guns.

UMSL criminologists Lee Slocum (at left) and Finn Esbensen discussed a variety of safety issues that students and teachers deal with daily.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Mass shootings in U.S. schools continue to occur and make headlines. Other types of school violence, typically affecting one or two students at a time, garner less attention and more often end in suicide than homicide.

That’s according to University of Missouri–St. Louis criminologist Finn Esbensen, whose recent research in St. Louis County schools alongside colleague Lee Ann Slocum suggests that many young people struggle with school attendance out of fear for their safety.

Visitors to schools likely are used to seeing a sign on the entrance prohibiting firearms. Now a proposed Missouri law would require districts with armed staff to warn attackers they'll be met with "deadly force."
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Most visitors to schools are used to seeing a sign on the entrance making it clear that firearms are prohibited on school property.

Now a proposed Missouri law would require districts that allow some teachers to carry guns to post a sign reading: "Under Missouri law, this school and its staff are authorized to meet threats to student safety with deadly force if necessary."

Several Missouri school districts arm their employees to prevent mass shootings. More schools in the state are considering it following a school shooting last month.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

A small number of rural Missouri school districts are allowing some teachers to carry concealed guns. Instead of following a state law that sets out how districts can arm teachers, the schools are using a private security firm to oversee training.

Some say that raises legal and liability questions.

Several Missouri school districts arm their employees to prevent mass shootings. More schools in the state are considering it following a school shooting last month.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Glenwood Elementary School sits along a state highway between West Plains and the Arkansas border, in far south-central Missouri. If the school has an emergency, the Howell County Sheriff’s Department is more than 10 minutes away.

Superintendent Wayne Stewart said it’s a situation that makes the district of 240 students especially vulnerable if a shooter ever attacked.

“Very likely, the deed would be done by the time emergency responders got here,” he said.

The director of Missouri’s Center for Education Safety wants the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to require all schools to have plans for responding to active shooters and other emergencies.   

via Flickr | frankjuarez

On Monday night, members of the St. Charles County Council heard the final recommendations from a task force that focused on how school safety can be improved.

Assembled in the wake of last year’s school shooting in Connecticut, the group included members of law enforcement, school administration and mental health services.  

Task force member and County Councilman Terry Hollander said in part the report is meant to be a resource for educators.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 15, 2013 - (The following is a letter recently sent) I am writing regarding the National Rifle Association’s position on several firearms-related proposals under consideration in the Senate.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 4, 2013 - Flanked by more than three dozen law enforcement officials from around the St. Louis area, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon called Friday for quick reinstatement of a provision in state law to keep security plans and procedures for public facilities under wraps.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 24, 2012 - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced today that he is strongly against legislative proposals to arm teachers and has sent a letter saying as much to the superintendents of each of the state’s 520 public school districts.

The letter, dated Christmas Eve, is Nixon’s first major stand on the issue since the Dec. 14 killing of 20 children and six educators in Newtown, Conn.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 21, 2012 - WASHINGTON – Taking the “High Noon” approach to preventing school killings, leaders of the nation’s top gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, called on Congress Friday to “act immediately” on a plan to deploy and train armed guards “in every school.”

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” asserted NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, arguing that gun-free school zones were an invitation to mass killers. “Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away or from a minute away?”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 18, 2012 - On Friday night, like a lot of parents around the country, my husband and I held our two small children tight and let them fall asleep in our bed. 

OK, we tried. But this was such a treat and they were so excited that our trips up and down the stairs to get them settled down finally ended with them tucked into their own beds. They still got extra hugs.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 18, 2012 - For some Missouri state lawmakers, the shooting at a Connecticut elementary school is prompting introspection and a call for action.

For other legislators, not enough time has passed to decide what to do next -- if anything. At least one Republican has offered the suggestion of arming school personnel, an idea floated earlier this week by St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 17, 2012 - When Tim Fitch, the chief of the St. Louis County police department, talks about arming teachers and other school personnel, he is concentrating on the critical minutes between the time a determined shooter bursts into a school and the time that trained law enforcement personnel can arrive.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 14, 2012 - This morning’s horrific shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. has local parents and school officials thinking about school safety.

Twenty-seven people, including 20 young children and the shooter, are reported to be dead in the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. Parents there were quickly informed of the shooting by an automatic phone call.