Students present policy ideas to state about how to keep schools safe

Mark Payne
Mark Payne
Mark Payne is the government and politics reporter for LINK nky. Email him at [email protected]

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Joud Dahleh, a student at the Ignite Institute in Boone County, told the media on Tuesday in Frankfort that even though she and her peers on the Commissioner’s Student Advisory Council are just students, they care about their education, and they want to stay safe inside their schools.

Dahleh and 29 other students from around the state sit on the council. The group presented their nine ideas on how to make Kentucky’s schools safer.

“This is kind of us trying to make a difference, and we hope it continues,” Dahleh said.

Joud Dahleh, an Ignite Institute Student who sits on the Commissioner’s Advisory Council, speaks to the press on Jan. 24. Photo by Mark Payne | LINK nky.

The council started its research last May after the Uvalde, Texas shooting. The goal is to develop policy suggestions for the Kentucky legislature.

Rep. James Tipton (R-Taylorsville) listened to the students’ presentation and said he would take it back to his colleagues in the legislature.

“I’m going to take the recommendations very seriously, and I’m going to share these recommendations with fellow members of the education committee,” said Tipton, who also is the new chair of the House Education committee.

Over the summer, the students started researching before meeting in small groups in August. They compiled a list of recommendations to legislators and education stakeholders that fit three categories: before, during and after a school shooting or other incident.

Their suggestions before an event include:

  • Ensure awareness of the STOP tipline, which allows anonymous reporting of potential issues
  • Improving the rate of intervention in concerning behaviors
  • promoting and supporting gun control legislation that would make it harder for an incident to occur

Here are the students’ suggestions for during an incident:

  • Improving the quality of active assailant drills and enforcing existing requirements
  • Clear communication to students, staff, and parents about a situation
  • Improving training for staff, school resource officers and all first responders.
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And here’s what the students would like to see after an incident:

  • Provide access to therapy sessions
  • Host town hall-style meetings for the community
  • Repair and rebuild the school building

Dahleh said she’s more focused on her school work, but she and her peers have conversations with teachers and classmates about what would happen in a school shooting.

“My school is mostly glass, so we do look around sometimes and just wonder how safe you would be if that were to occur,” Dahleh said. “So this isn’t on our minds every second of the day, but it is something we talk about.”

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