COLUMBIA (WACH) â?? â??We grieve collectively for the families in Newtown,â?? says Superintendent of Education Dr. Mick Zais, calling Fridayâ??s shooting â??a horrific act perpetrated by a disturbed young man.â??
A major area of concern for the Department of Education for all 84 districts in the state is the safety of the students while they are at school. Dr. Zais, however, points out that much like public safety agencies, safety in schools is a local issue, that each district is responsible for.
The Education Department has checklists and policies that guide in matters of safety, however, by state mandate, each district must review, and implement the rules prior to the start of each school year. They may amend them to fit the needs of the district.
The plans, according to Dr. Zais, include other safety concerns, including fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, and bus accidents.
â??One size does not fit all,â?? says Dr. Zais about the idea of arming school administrators and teachers. He references a small school in Colorado that is thirty minutes from any law enforcement that allows staff to be armed. Dr. Zais believes that the decision to arm South Carolina teachers should be made on the local level, after discussions with teachers, law enforcement, and parents.
The Department of Education safety plan and checklist is available at the departmentâ??s website , and Dr. Zais encourages any parent with questions or concerns to visit their schools and review the plans themselves.
With the current safety plans, Dr. Zais says â??I think our children are much safer in our schools than in most public places.â??