Durham Public Schools leaders, law enforcement and emergency teams put more emphasis on school safety for the summit

DURHAM, NC (WTVD) — On Monday evening, Durham Public Schools officials made the case for safety at its Safe Schools Summit.

Charles E. Jordan High School is where DPS officials, along with representatives from the Durham County Sheriff’s Office, Durham Police Department, Fire Marshal, Durham Fire Department and County emergency management operations met with parents and community stakeholders to answer questions related to the relationship between the various agencies.

“If you want an issue resolved or resolved, or an issue you need to raise it, especially if it’s going to take more money,” Durham parent Trish Dean said after the summit, which lasted around 90 minutes.

Prior to the meeting, a school district press release acknowledged the event as an opportunity for parents and the community to learn how the district is working with partner agencies to keep everyone safe.

“Safety and education must be in sync if we are to ensure the physical and socio-emotional safety and exceptional academic achievement of all our students,” DPS Superintendent Dr. Pascal Mubenga said in the press release. “We are proud to have such partners who stand up for our schools.”

Authorities expected around 100 people to attend the event. However, there were fewer people in the audience.

“I just think we need to be more present,” mother Kathryn Johnson Thompson said. “We have a lot to do. We have a lot of work to do. “It can’t stop there. You can’t come to a meeting and think everything’s going to be solved and everything will be settled. You must be active throughout the year, throughout the years that our children are involved in the Durham public school system.”

It’s also a high priority for the district’s new executive director of safety and security, Eva Howard, whose resume includes stints at the Highway Patrol and NC State University.

In the statement, Howard said, “We make it a habit of joining forces with the leaders of our emergency and safety organizations to advance common sense and advanced systems thinking to protect people in our schools and buildings.”

“We’re open to all feedback,” Howard said ahead of the meeting.

With the midterm elections just weeks away, Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead also fielded questions from the community and even responded to their wish for School Resource Officers (SROs) to be posted to elementary schools. .

“It’s something I would love to see,” Birkhead said. “So in the meantime, we want to educate parents in forums like this. Provide information so they too can understand that gang members are actively recruiting 8, 9 and 10 year olds, every day.”

Dr. Mubenga then clarified that such a decision would have to come from the DPS board and that this conversation has not yet taken place. However, he encouraged others to get involved.

“When we talk about gang violence in the community, it’s not just a DPS issue. It’s a community issue. And we need a collective and community effort,” Mubenga said.

Additionally, parent Kevin Primus brought a list of several questions he wanted to ask the panel that dealt with weapons in schools and a grievance regarding past experience with an ORS.

“That’s where I’m going to start my answer,” Birkhead replied to one of Primus’ questions. “It is illegal for students to bring weapons to school. Period.”

“I wasn’t completely satisfied with the responses,” Primus said at the end of the summit. “I don’t think everything was accurately characterized from my personal knowledge in certain situations.”

School and government leaders will hold another summit on September 26 at 6 p.m. at the Southern School of Energy and Sustainability.

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