Shooting Outside High School Renews Discussion About School Safety

Oct 21, 2016

A recent drive-by shooting at Linden McKinley STEM Academy injured two students, alarming parents and school leaders.  

School Board President Gary Baker says two additional school resource officers have been added at Linden McKinley. Members of the Columbus Board of Education plan to hold a special meeting next month to look into safety concerns outside of school district buildings.  

The below is an automated transcript. Please excuse minor typos and errors.

Debbie Holmes: A recent drive-by shooting at Linden McKinley's STEM Academy raised concerns among many people in the community about safety surrounding school buildings. Two boys - 12 and 15 years old - were left wounded. The Columbus Board of Education is also taking a look at school safety. With me to talk about that is board president Gary Baker. And thanks for talking with me this morning.

Gary Baker: Good morning. Thank you, it's my pleasure to be with you.

Debbie Holmes: I understand the board will gather for their own meeting to discuss safety at schools. What are the issues that will be raised?

Gary Baker: The board will hold a special work session sometime in November specifically to discuss the topic of community safety. And I want to be clear about the fact that the issue that the board will be hearing about is, first of all, our current efforts in our schools with our safety forces and our counselors and our partnership with Columbus police division, with our strategic resource officers. And so the fact finding will start there.

The board will hear about [what measures] the administration currently has in place and the fact that those efforts that we've undertaken have made our schools safe places. Our real discussion then will focus on, how do we partner with the appropriate community partners and parents and others to keep our students safe once they have left school grounds? 

Debbie Holmes: Do you feel right now that there are enough school resource officers on hand at the buildings? 

Gary Baker: Well the board recently took action to expand our SRO partnership with the Division of Police and we did add additional SROs to some of our schools. We also added an additional sergeant in partnership with the police division, and so the program has been very effective in our high schools and we certainly do appreciate the partnership with the city of Columbus.

Debbie Holmes: So how many more have you added then?

Gary Baker: So we'll be adding two additional SROs and in fact, specifically at Linda McKinley, we will have two SROs in the building at all times now.

Debbie Holmes: How do you think that will improve, then, the safety?

Gary Baker: Well as I said, our schools are already safe places for our students and we want to maintain that and we want to expand that space beyond the walls of the school and beyond campus in partnership with others. But the SROs specifically in the school of work with our existing safety and security team to build relationships with students and staff and family in order to help keep the students safe while they're in school, and we've been very fortunate that those strategies have worked well in our school building.

Debbie Holmes: I've been talking with Columbia School Board President Gary Baker about safety around Columbus City Schools. Thanks for joining me.

Gary Baker: It's been my pleasure. Thank you for the opportunity.