ATLANTA — School administrators from across the state will gather in Columbus this week to discuss improving school safety measures as the nation continues to struggle with gun violence.
Representatives from nearly every school district in Georgia will take part in the Georgia School Safety and Homeland Security Conference beginning Tuesday at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center. It will be the largest conference ever and for the first time will take place over three days.
The recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas will be on the minds of many. Part of the conference will focus on stopping gun violence before it happens.
Speakers will include Frank Straub with the Center for Mass Violence Response Studies, who will discuss how parents and administrators ended the deadly plot of a student in rural Michigan in 2018. Friends of the teen neglected to report the existence of a notebook that was filled with disturbing images and ingredients for a bomb.
“People tried to do the right thing and in fact in aspects of this did do the right thing,” Straub said. “We think that’s incredibly important because it shows the challenges of getting bystanders to come forward and to report things.”
Straub will discuss 170 cases of threats against schools nationwide and how they were stopped. Six of those cases are here in Georgia.
“It’s very important that educators, law enforcement, and community members are aware of the warning signs,” Straub said. “But I what I want to emphasize is the warning signs of somebody in need of help.”
While active shooters are the concern of the day, the conference will focus on a variety of issues that include bullying, human trafficking, and the opioid epidemic.
“The Newnan High School principal is going to talk about their continuation of operations after that tornado that hit the building,” Chris Allen of Georgia’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency said. “We’re going to have a COVID panel talk about how rural Georgia vs suburban Georgia vs come colleges had different responses.”
Allen says school districts will learn fresh approaches.
“So that they can have some reflection to say, hey, we’ve been doing it this way for ten years, let’s look at it from another angle,” he said.
An angle that could stop a school threat in its tracks.