Wake County schools security assessment highlights safety concerns

Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Wake County schools security assessment highlights concerns
Teachers in Wake County were surveyed as part of a security assessment, and the district has found plenty of room for improvement.

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Teachers in Wake County were surveyed as part of a security assessment.

The results showed that although 90% said they felt safe, 22% said they have not even read their school's crisis plan.

School leaders realize they have room to improve.

Shamya Tabor, a rising senior at Sanderson High School in Raleigh is sounding the alarm.

She told ABC11 by phone about a reoccurring problem that a teacher told her is happening at their school -- just before the summer break.

"There's been students coming in from different schools that don't even really go to the school at all. And they're just letting them in," said Tabor. "I don't want to have to worry going to class-to-class about people you know, are not supposed to be in school in here. I feel like there should have been measures taken"

That's one of the concerns that came out of a security assessment that the Wake County Public School System. The district hired a national security team to perform a review last year and in 2020.

On Tuesday, the school board reviewed how to possibly implement its nine safety recommendations.

One of them includes reconsidering the district's off-campus lunch policy and continuing to prioritize its visitor guidelines.

"The good news, the audit was positive, we're doing a lot of good things," said Chris Heagarty, WCPSS School Board Vice Chair. "Some of our newer buildings already have security measures built, but our old buildings may not be there yet.

Heagarty said new funding from the county will help renovate those older buildings.

And then there's the School Resource Officer Program.

Security advisors recommend more consistent supervision, training and selection of its SROs.

The district currently has 76.

"SROs that know the students, know the neighborhood are more effective. Having that training be able to identify threats and being able to have a good relationship with students -- know that students can come to them safely," said Heagarty.

ABC11 asked him whether the district had enough SROs.

"That's an open question. One of the challenges right now if you talk to our law enforcement agencies, there are a lot of vacancies," he responded

An ABC11 I-Team investigation found that nearly every district has an SRO, but not every elementary school, and the costs of these services vary from each district.

Recently, some area districts have weighed the decision on whether to keep them. For example, Chapel Hill City-Carrboro Schools ultimately decided to keep the program and add one Behavior Specialist.

The assessment also recommends that Wake County schools have better signage and that they hire more security personnel, such as an emergency manager.