I observed with great interest as Dr. Grenita Lathan struggled (HISD delays metal detectors, February 15, 2020; Jacob Carpenter) with steps to be taken to ensure safety in our schools. Her most recent recommendation was to install metal detectors in twenty selected middle and high schools. This recommendation begs the question, “If the shooting had not occurred, would Bellaire have been one of the first schools to receive them?” It occurred to me after 58 years in Houston ISD that a complete transformation of the culture of the district and its schools is required to ensure school safety – one built on trust, relationships, mutual respect and sincere concern. That includes concern for all students and schools built on intentionality. In such a system, nothing is left to chance. The school must focus on the whole child, including moral, emotional, intellectual and civic transformation. As Dr. Lathan was meeting last month with Bellaire students, Annie Zhu stated, “…some students voiced support for metal detectors, while others emphasized the need for increased trauma training and improved relationships with students.” Annie Zhu nailed it. When each student has at least one person on campus to whom he/she can go for support, it begins to transform the school. Teachers, staff, and administrators must all be committed to a new philosophy and willing to take the time to work with individual students. When a school has these kinds of close relationships with individual students regardless of their abilities, zip codes, and backgrounds, issues can be addressed in a timely manner and crises can be prevented. Perhaps we should rethink our policies and how our schools operate on a daily basis. There is no quick fix to school safety. Inquiring minds should dig deeper into the problem.
HISD School Safety Plan