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Atlanta Public Schools hold safety forums, plan to create security force

12:32 AM, Jan 9, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Parents, educators and community members gathered at D.M. Therrell High School Tuesday evening to give feedback in the first of four public safety forums hosted by Atlanta Public Schools.

About four dozen people gathered in the school auditorium to listen to a presentation by APS safety officials. District spokesman Stephen Alford said APS holds similar forums every year to revise safety procedures and receive parental input.

Among the recommendations is a plan to create a separate security force for Atlanta Public Schools. The district currently uses Atlanta Police officers to monitor middle and high schools.

"If we implement our own police officer program, then we'll have a clear line of responsibility with respect to how we manage safety and security in our schools," Alford said.

For some parents, Tuesday's meeting had a particular sense of urgency after the recent shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

Susan Cook is PTA president for STEMS at Therrell High School. She said her heart broke for the parents in Newtown, and the shooting made her think about her own daughter's safety.

"How safe are our schools?" she wondered. "Are we ready, if anything happens like that here, are we prepared?"

According to Alford, the plan is still in early stages and the district doesn't know how much it would cost to implement. District officials are expected to present the idea to school board members next month.

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