The recent school shooting in Florida reignited debate about safety at schools. WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports one Albany County official is assembling a panel in hopes of improving current safeguards and dispelling the fear students might face about attending school.
Albany County Executive Dan McCoy has invited members of law enforcement, school administrators, the mental health community and municipal leaders to participate in a forum discussion entitled “Keeping our Kids Safe: Life after Parkland, Florida” March 9th.
"The whole thing behind it is that as I'm listening to my own kids, may daughter's a 13-year-old in eighth grade, and my other children and kids in the city of Albany and around the city, they're worried. This is the third tragedy that we have seen at this magnitude. It's shocking. As a parent, you think, when you drop your kid off at school they're in the safest environment that they can be in. It's like that little bubble, you know, we drop 'em off, we go to work and we think 'hey jeez we don't have to think about our children because they're safe.’ And they should be," said McCoy, who believes the brainstorming and policy-sharing session will yield positive results. "It was something I felt we needed to do now and discuss it, and be pro-active, not reactive." He wants to get parents, students, teachers, engaged and involved. "Anyone can come. Right now we're putting all the professionals in one room. And I would imagine, eventually, based on the recommendations we're gonna reach out to parents, because you know, we wanna get people's different point of view. What they feel is unsafe or what they think should change for the children. So I imagine this is gonna be one of many discussions, and we wanna get the children involved.
Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Superintendent Dr. Brian Bailey is an invited panelist. "We have to be able to come up with conversations that we can share with our children to make them feel safe and comfortable and like they have a voice in this issue. It's been especially interesting to hear our high school students speak about this topic. And I will say we've had one forum for students so far and we're going to have another. They've been remarkably insightful and said some surprising things, that, you know, despite our best efforts as adults the things that we think we're doing may not be being heard in the way that we need to. i would like it for our legislators to hear our concerns. I think that there needs to be an investment in overarching emotional mental wellness in our communities. This is not a school issue. The school unfortunately happens to be the focus and the most impacted as we look at these horrific stories that are coming in, but it is about mental wellness in our greater world."
The University at Albany is co-sponsoring the forum, scheduled for March 9th at the Campus Center boardroom from 9:30 to 11 a.m.