Local School Boards Beef Up Security

By: Vanessa Nguyen Email
By: Vanessa Nguyen Email

(WJHG via AP)

Tuesday's Bay County School Board shooting continues to send shock waves throughout the nation.

The incident has left many school districts wondering how to make sure it will never happen to them, and several school superintendents in our area say they are planning to beef up security starting as early as today.

The image of 56-year-old Clay Duke firing his Smith and Wesson gun at Bay County School Board members is one that hits close to home for neighboring school districts.

"Very unreal, I cannot believe that it happened, I cannot believe that something like that would happen in Jackson County but you never know," says Lee Miller, Jackson County School Superintendent.

To make sure the incident isn't repeated, many school districts including Jackson and Washington County plan to have a school resource officer present at their meetings now.

"They are a security blanket for us," Miller adds.

In fact, the Jackson County School Board used one for the first time at last night's workshop.

Superintendent Miller says they will be looking at security for all of their schools.

"It's just sad that it comes to that, all our citizens are welcome to our meetings. We have an open-door policy."

"It is a reality in dealing with people when you have to let teachers or employees go that the ramifications of their release can escalate to that," says Sandra Cook, Washington County School Superintendent. Dr. Sandra Cook says work crews will also be updating their exterior lights. "We are taking this very seriously, this is not something that we'll be taking as 'oh, it just happened in Bay County' because this is our back door."

School board members in Calhoun County meet next door to the sheriff's office and jail, but Superintendent Tommy McClellan says Tuesday's shooting brought back memories of his uncle, former Gulf County Judge W. L. Bailey, who was shot and killed in a similar fashion.

"It hits home because I can remember vividly when that incident happened and the effect it had on my family," McClellan says.

McClellan plans to discuss extra security at the next Calhoun County School Board meeting.

Holmes County Superintendent Gary Galloway declined to comment on what they would be doing to protect their faculty and students.

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