School Safety: Big Topic For Thousands Of School Administrators In Nashville

Posted at 5:27 PM, Feb 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-15 19:21:53-05

School safety has been the topic on the minds of thousands of superintendents in Nashville for an education conference this week. 

Approximately 3,000 school administrators have been attending the National Conference on Education at Music City Center. 

The event was organized by AASA The Superintendents Association. 

AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech expressed his concerns about the trend of school shootings in the country to NewsChannel 5.

"It's ridiculous because it's terrible to have to say this is a new normal," said Domenech. "It's time to stop moaning and worrying and feel sorry for ourselves and let's do something about."

On Wednesday, authorities said a former student, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing at least 17 people and injuring more than a dozen. 

Domenech urged legislators to take action on gun control, increasing funds to improve security and more resources to treat mental health issues.

"It's become a matter of fact that it's going to happen again," said Domenech. 

The conference will host 120 seminars and workshops on a variety of topics, but about a dozen of them will focus on school safety. 

There's also an exhibit hall with hundreds of booths including the School Safety Advocacy Council. 

Executive Director Curt Lavarello said the news of the school shooting in Flordida hit close to him because he grew up and became a school resource officer in the same county. 

He strongly recommended to superintendents to have a single point of entry to the building, know the students very well, and make sure all schools know who's on campus at all times.

"We are a very resilient nation and we bounce back from these horrific incidents very quickly and while that's a good thing for us, sadly enough it makes us so very vulnerable for the next one. As we sit here today at a conference filled with school administrators, I can tell you without any degree of doubt there is another kid planning the next school shooting who wants it to be bigger and bolder than what we saw yesterday," said Lavarello.

Lavarello stated that the government has not been doing enough to prevent future school shootings. 

His council has disapproved of any bills that would equip teachers with firearms because he believes it's a strategy that's not conducive to school safety.

"I would certainly not want to be the police officer responding to a shooting and being told on my radio that we have one bad shooter with a gun and seven good people with a gun and ask them to make critical decision in seconds," added Lavarello.

Despite the importance of school safety, Lavarello said he met one superintendent at the exhibit hall who said she was scared to think about it. 

"School safety can't be something we address just when there's a major incident in this country. It's something that's got to be on every administrator's mind every single day and when they come to work."

The conference will last until February 17. 

One of the seminars will have retired Newtown Public School District superintendent Joe Erardi on lessons learned from the Newtown tragedy. 

Click on this link to learn more about the conference.