Dr Charles D. Baker
After serving with the Louisville Metro Police Department (including time as Commander of DARE) I began a career in education teaching for Jefferson County Public Schools (Bruce Middle School, Iroquois and Fairdale). Due to a family work transfer, I was hired as the director of safety for Arizona’s largest public school district, serving a diverse student body of approximately 72,000 people. The strategies and procedures we implemented created a safe and secure school environment, but most importantly, the success is due to the cooperation between the school district and the local government.
Key actions of the school and the community
- Our school board and municipal council have met periodically to discuss common concerns and propose solutions to meet the needs of the school district and the community. It has been a very positive and productive relationship.
- “Security teams”, trained in the use of “nonviolent crisis intervention” have been set up in each secondary school, with security guards reporting either to the principal or to the deputy principal who was in charge. ultimate authority and responsibility.
- School leaders have established security protocols based on their school’s needs (one size does not fit all) with guidance from the central office.
- A school safety reporting system allowing information to be shared with the city police department as part of the guidelines of the Family Education Rights and Protection of Privacy Act that has been developed. Liaisons were provided by the police department to be our “security services” point of contact, including their “gang response team”.
- If specific threats were received against our schools, we would collaborate with the police department and work to search and secure the school in the least disruptive manner.
Local police patrollers were welcomed and encouraged to contact schools on their “beats”.
Students should be held accountable for their actions, but the use of discipline should be fair and serve a positive purpose. JCPS must maintain discipline in our schools so that all children can learn in a positive environment. Students who disturb, bully other students, use or threaten to resort to violence against students, teachers and staff, should be disciplined and removed from the classroom until they can display behavior. socially acceptable.
In addition to the discipline imposed by schools, parents of victimized students should be notified immediately and they should decide whether they wish to continue the police intervention. If this is the case, the information may be shared between the security team and the police (this does not violate the Family Education Rights and Protection of Privacy Act or FERPA). Teachers and staff who are victimized should be supported if they decide to continue the police response.
Non-traditional instructions developed due to the COVID-19 pandemic should be used as an alternative to suspension. Next, parents / guardians must take an active role in changing the student’s behavior before they are allowed to return to class. This is a much better strategy than using an ‘alternative placement’ which in many cases simply ‘stores’ children for a period of time before returning to their home school, or a period of time. suspension, which interrupts a student’s academic progress.
Like many political issues, school safety elicits deeply held opinions. I strongly disagree with the Kentucky legislature which dictates how local school districts should implement school safety. The decision on how to move forward regarding school safety and other matters must remain in local control.
I encourage JCPS and Louisville Metro Government to come together to develop strategies and policies for the common good of our entire community. It is the responsibility of the JCPS to work with the local police, but it is also the duty of the local police to provide assistance to schools. JCPS provides education to our youth, and the police keep the community safe. Schools are part of the community as a whole and LMPD, along with other local police departments, are required to serve and be ready to meet the needs of schools under their jurisdiction.
I want nothing more than to have a safe and secure school learning environment. I have grandchildren who attend Jefferson County Public Schools and close relatives who work there.
Since leaving my job in school safety, I have been a professor of criminal justice in Arizona and now in Louisville. The thoughts I share are my own and do not reflect the views of any educational institution.
We are in the same boat.
Charles D. Baker retired as a lieutenant in the Louisville Metro Police Department, taught social studies for Jefferson County Public Schools, and for seven years was Director of Security Services for the Louisville Public Schools. Mesa, Arizona. Since 2003, he has been a professor in the Administration of Justice Studies at Scottsdale Community College and since 2014 as an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Louisville. He holds a doctorate in educational administration from Arizona State University.