There are two things I can predict with some degree of certainty regarding school security in Lee’s Summit.
First, don’t look for metal detectors to be installed in any of our buildings.
Secondly, as long as Dennis Carpenter is superintendent, we won’t be arming our teachers.
A few other facts that were revealed: in 2015, building staff started taking active shooter training; a new mentor program may be on the horizon in R-7; and the district may consider making election days a non-school day.
Following up with the district after the forum, I learned that in 2013, processes started that would require classroom doors to be locked during teaching time. Magnets have been provided to allow for entry and exit by students and that, in case of an emergency situation, the doors can be immediately shut and locked.
The best soundbites of the night came courtesy of Carpenter, a leader who isn’t known for holding back or failing to speak his mind.
A question from the audience came in near the end of the forum about the possibility of arming teachers.
“Unapologetically, I’m a no,” Carpenter said pointedly. “Count me out.”
The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District and the Lee’s Summit Police Department hosted A Community Conversation on School Safety on April 25 with approximately 80 attending the evening event.
Earlier in the forum, Carpenter implored parents and guardians to lock up guns, pointing to incidents in Lee’s Summit schools this year that have unfolded after kids removed firearms from their home.
Questions were put to a panel also including Lee’s Summit Police Chief Travis Forbes, Director of Student Services Rexanne Hill and supervisor of safety and environmental services Ryan Hall.
While each took differing queries that ranged from bullying to mental health, questions about safety measures, front-door protocol, future plans and even punishment for students who bring guns on school property were left unanswered under the all-too-familiar guise of “we can’t reveal that information.”
And while safety, security and privacy surely are all factors in what we can and cannot discuss as it relates to our children and district, this is hardly the time to not give district parents the answers they are looking for.
Having real and honest conversations about security measures and future plans isn’t just a request from a few people in Lee’s Summit. It’s more of a demand. From moms (in shirts of all colors, specifically red) and dads to the kids sitting in the classrooms.
Just like the topic of suicide, we should insist that plans and action items revolving around the safety of our children — the most precious commodity of the district — aren’t taboo or unspoken.
Carpenter rightly received a round of applause at one point when he spoke of truly hearing the voices of those who are bullied.
As parents and taxpayers in Lee’s Summit, we should ask the same. Continue to hold these types of public forums, encourage more question and answer sessions, allow for more of a town-hall setting with a moderator and answer all questions.
Telling us you cannot share certain details doesn’t inspire confidence in upping the level of communication promised to us more than a year ago.
Public forums such as these prove a positive step in the direction of enhanced communications. By holding such events, challenging — even uncomfortable — questions should be expected about the hottest topic in the district.
Editor's Note: John Beaudoin is a Lee's Summit resident and award winning writer and former newspaper publisher in the Lee's Summit community. Views and opinions expressed in his columns do not necessarily reflect those of Link 2 Lee's Summit, it's employees or any other guest contributors.