Harris County school safety seminar looks at prevention and reaction

HOUSTON — Keeping schools a safe and secure environment for learning and teaching: that's the goal at the Center for Safe and Secure Schools, which is holding a school safety summit here in Houston.

“We're looking at a lot of different topics like cyber security, restorative discipline practices, how do we define and recognize in others, students that are troubled, and what can we do proactively to get out in front of it?” Dir. Ecomet Burley of the Center for Safe and Secure Schools said.

With the deadly Santa Fe school shooting lingering from just weeks ago, interest in how to prevent and react to threats against our children's schools is high.

“It has made it more urgent, and important today I have right around 200 plus people. Safety is the No. 1 priority for educators if kids don't have a safe learning environment they can't really learn like they need to,” Burley said.

On defining how safe a child's school is, Chief David Kimberly with Klein ISD Police says it comes down to campus climate.

“We know that if we have strong positive relationships with those students, those students when there's a kid in crisis or another student in crisis, they can come, or they're confident and comfortable that they can actually come in an speak with somebody and give us a forewarning,” Kimberly said.

And asking the question, 'are the students okay?,’ Mary Young with The Center for School Behavioral Health, focuses on words that matter.

“I think that the stigma is definitely across the board. If we looked at the development that middle schoolers and high schoolers are going through right now it's so important how their friends view them and if their friends are being like 'oh he`s cray cray` then that is even more stopping and not allowing that student to feel comfortable to seek support,” Young said.

And finally, if prevention doesn't work, reaction must be swift, and the absolute need for training in an active shooter scenario on campus is a depressing reality.

For many students, school may be out for summer, but for the Harris County Department of Education, they're still hard at work to try and keep schools safe.