School superintendents talk school safety this week at state convention

School superintendents talk school safety this week at state convention

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Superintendents from schools across the Magnolia State are on the coast this week, meeting for an annual convention.

It's the 2018 MASS/Alliance Summer Convention and it's happening all this week at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi. More than 100 superintendents are there, where the focus for the week is school safety. MASS stands for the Mississippi  Association of School Superintendents.

During the morning gathering, organizers shared power points with images of active shooters. Officials at this Mississippi superintendent's convention said they are incredibly random, but active shootings are preventable.

Other pre-attack behaviors include a lack of interest in non-violent resolutions to a grievance."We know that for most of the time it usually starts with a grievance. What is a grievance? A personal slight. A personal situation that has happened to that individual and they can't move past it," said Special Agent FBI Karie Gibson.

Professionals from the FBI and other agencies will talk throughout the week with superintendents about school safety, walking them through plans to help implement in the event of a school shooter situation. Organizers hope these educators will bring vital safety lessons back to their school districts.

"We want to bring a sense of awareness to our membership that we need to start putting things in place to curtail some of this," said Dr. Phil Burchfield, who is the director of MASS.

Retired FBI Special Agent Jeff Franks address the group of administrators, discussing the importance of students saying something if they see something. In 80 percent of school shootings, said Franks, at least one person had information ahead of time.

Franks said often schools prepare for active shooters while class is in session but fail to prepare before and after school when many students are still on campus. "Perhaps through athletics or band or what not, so having accountability of those students before school and after school is critical and that really needs to be a part of your active shooter response plan," said Franks.

Knowing where every student is at all times is also a must, he told the district leaders.

Another area of focus that Franks addresses is for school administrators to know how many first responders are in the area so they can determine ahead of time whether students will need to be treated by neighboring areas.

Other topics of interest on the agenda for the week include recognizing and de-escalating situations when needed, as well as looking at products designed to help keep schools safe.

FBI agents also talked about the importance of recognizing concerning behaviors and reporting that to the right people. They mentioned creating a hotline where students can leave an anonymous tip.

Administrators will also discuss recruiting and retaining teachers, using social media and technology to enhance schools, and many other topics throughout the week. The conference ends on Friday.

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