Demopolis BOE discusses school safety, security

Demopolis’ Board of Education adjourned its relatively brief meeting Monday night in favor of an executive session to discuss security plans and measures for its four campuses.

Prior to the executive session, Superintendent Dr. Al Griffin reminded those in attendance of the importance of school safety in the wake of last month’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

“School safety is obviously a real hot button issue,” Griffin said. “The State Board of Education is compiling a list of needs and hazards with input from every system in the state.”

The superintendent said he has been working with Demopolis Police Chief Tommie Reese, the principals at each school and other officials to develop a sound safety and security plan. Monday’s executive session was the next step in that process.

Griffin also noted that a bill is expected to be introduced in the Legislature that would allow for the arming of school officials who have military or law enforcement training. He stopped short of voicing support or opposition to such a measure, simply calling the idea “interesting.”

He added that preliminary studies project that it would cost approximately $122 million to place a safety resource officer at every school in the state.

In other business Monday, the board heard a Demopolis High School parent request reconsideration for her son’s admission to the Beta Club. She said her son met all the academic requirements, but feels he was not inducted based on a technicality. She said her son took his application and fee to the school office, rather than to the Beta Club sponsor, and thus he did not meet the application deadline. She also appealed for better communication with parents regarding such matters through the system’s website.

The parent was told that enhanced use of the website as a communication tool is a priority for the system, but said the specific matter of her son’s admission to the Beta Club should be addressed at the school level. She was referred to DHS Principal Leon Clark and the school’s Beta Club sponsor.

The board received gifts of appreciation from each school, as well as the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce, in recognition of National School Board Month.

Other action included approval of two field trips, approval of the system’s annual agreement with West Alabama Public Transportation, and the approval of Dana Eddins to provide speech services for six of the system’s Headstart students.

U.S. Jones Elementary Principal Tony Speegle noted that third-grader Jones Colgrove won last week’s Senior Bowl talent contest, and will represent the school and the community by singing the National Anthem at this year’s Senior Bowl in Mobile.