Parents voice school security concerns to council
by Jennifer Cohron
Mar 14, 2013 | 1860 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CORDOVA — School security was the main topic of discussion at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Cordova City Council.

Mayor Drew Gilbert announced that following a recent security threat at Cordova High School, a uniformed police officer has been stationed there during school hours.

Local officials declined to provide further details regarding the threat.

Gilbert said the reassignment of a patrolman, which equates to 16 hours of overtime for the department, began on Monday and will continue until spring break.

He added that officers are still conducting daily walk-throughs at the elementary and middle schools and may be checking in more frequently in the future.

“Right now, we’ve put an officer in the high school because we felt that was high priority at the moment,” Gilbert said.

Later in the meeting, Renee Sides addressed the council on behalf of Concerned Parents of Cordova.

Sides said the group was formed by local parents who wish to assume responsibility for their children’s safety at school before a tragedy can occur.

She added that they wish to cooperate with parents, teachers, administrators and law enforcement on a plan of “absolute protection.”

“We are no longer going to be comforted by the statement, ‘Trust us. Your kids are safe,’” said Sides, the mother of a high schooler as well as an elementary-aged child.

Concerned Parents of Cordova met for the first time on Saturday and held a prayer meeting at each Cordova school on Sunday.

A recent lockdown at CHS led to the group being formed, according to Sides.

One of their first acts was to push for a policy of notifying parents when a school is on lockdown as well as providing a general reason for it.

Sides said during the council meeting that Walker County Schools Superintendent Jason Adkins agreed to address that concern after speaking with the group on Saturday.

Sides also questioned the council about the plans for protecting the schools after spring break as well as responding to an emergency.

Gilbert said he has worked with Chief Nick Smith and council member Ed Earp on a potential plan to have a resource officer split his time between the three schools.

He also said that conversations will continue with Adkins as well as CHS Principal Kathy Vintson and other local administrators about the issue of security.

“We don’t want to overstep our bounds. It is a county system. We do want to do what they would desire for us to do and what we are capable of doing,” he said.

Smith said the department has received safety plans from each school that would provide vital information for his department in the event of an incident.

Assistant chief Zak Green added that local law enforcement have conducted walk-throughs of each school with the respective administrators to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their safety plans.

A school safety committee has also been formed at the county level. The group is visiting area schools and making recommendations about how to make each environment safer.