Shatter-Resistant Glass Films to Be Installed on Every Wilson County School Campus This Summer

WCS Meeting

The Wilson County School District voted unanimously to approve shatter-resistant glass films to be installed at each of its 24 brick-and-mortar campuses.

On Monday, board members Kimberly McGee, Larry Tomlinson, Carrie Pfeiffer, Jamie Farough, Melissa Lynn, Joseph Padilla, and Beth Meyers all voted to approve Director of Schools Jeff Luttrell’s recommendation that the board hire Osteen Construction to install the security film for a total of $900,105.36.

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Williamson County Sheriff Candidate Jeff Hughes Addresses Opposition to Permitless Carry Bill in 2022

Williamson County Sheriff candidate Jeff Hughes

Former chief of Brentwood Police Jeff Hughes, who is running for Williamson County Sheriff, addressed controversy surrounding his stance in 2022 against a bill in the Tennessee General Assembly allowing for the permitless carry of firearms.

Hughes said his stance against the bill was coming from a matter of “public safety and officer safety,” specifically regarding the bill’s lack of training requirement for gun owners.

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Two Metro Nashville Schools Where Students Allegedly Brought Weapons Received ‘D’s’ on Their State Performance Reviews

Two Metro Nashville students were arrested on Wednesday as a result of separate incidents at two Metro Nashville schools involving firearms. Both schools, a middle school and high school, received D grades by the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE).

A 14-year-old student was arrested on Wednesday at Hunters Lane High School after another student reportedly told school administrators he suspected a firearm in the other student’s backpack. School administrators searched the backpack and found a semi-automatic pistol, prompting the student’s arrest and transport to a juvenile detention facility.

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Tennessee State Senator Mark Pody Announces School Safety Grants Will Now Fund Requests for Technology to Alert Law Enforcement of Threats Inside Schools

Tennessee State Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) joined Monday’s edition of The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy to discuss the latest developments surrounding his efforts to make new school-specific security technology eligible for the school safety grants approved by the General Assembly last year.

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EXCLUSIVE: State Senator Brent Taylor Wants Soft-on-Crime Shelby County D.A. Mulroy to Reveal Whether ‘Restorative Justice’ Group Has Special Access to Real-Time Bail Data

On Wednesday’s episode of The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy, State Senator Brent Taylor (R-Memphis) tells listeners what he really thinks about Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy and what appears to be his cooperation with restorative justice groups working in Memphis and across Tennessee to reimagine justice and reinterpret current law through their efforts, among other things, to eliminate cash bail.

Taylor explores different ways to hold district attorneys accountable, including potential methods for termination under consideration; as well as addresses the controversial release of a murder suspect without bail and his proposed legislation to remove Judge Bill Anderson from his role in managing judicial commissioners.

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Exclusive: State Senator Mark Pody Previews School Safety Bill Proposal Set to Be Introduced Next Week

In this engaging interview on Tuesday’s episode of The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy, State Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) previews for listeners his new idea for school safety. The longtime lawmaker emphasizes the importance of this comprehensive approach to school safety and highlights the need to protect teachers from assaults and false accusations.

In addition to discussing the school safety bill, the interview offers a peek behind the curtain of the Tennessee General Assembly into the complex process of navigating and passing legislation.

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Commentary: Randi Weingarten Is the Last Person to Give Advice on School Safety

Straight from the “No matter how cynical I get, I just can’t keep up” file, it was recently announced that American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten has been appointed to the Homeland Security Academic Partnership Council. According to the Homeland Security website, the HSAPC will “provide strategic and actionable recommendations to the Secretary on campus safety and security, improved coordination, research priorities, hiring, and more.”

Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) vented his frustration with the appointment, tweeting that Weingarten “is the last person who should be advising anyone on school safety.”

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Homeland Security Secretary Appoints AFT President Randi Weingarten to Security Council to Advise on Keeping Schools Safe from ‘Terrorism’

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced Wednesday that American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten is among 20 new members appointed to his Homeland Security Academic Partnership Council (HSAPC), which seeks to advise the DHS secretary on “campus safety and security, improved coordination, research priorities, hiring, and more.”

“The newly appointed members are a diverse group representing higher education associations, campus law enforcement, two- and four-year colleges and universities, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges, and Asian American and Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions,” DHS said in a press statement about the new appointments.

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MNPS to Purchase 3,300 Shelter in Place Emergency Preparedness Backpacks

Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) has committed to the purchase of 3,300 shelter-in-place backpacks at a cost not to exceed $427,905. Officially known as “Complete Shelter in Place Emergency Preparedness Backpacks”, they are designed to ensure schools are prepared should students need to shelter in place as a result of a  variety of emergency situations.

At last week’s board meeting, the MNPS school board committed to the purchase of the bags for the upcoming school year. 

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Hero Metro Officers Who Killed Covenant School Shooter to Receive National Award

Metro Nashville Police Officers Rex Englebert and Michael Collazo will receive the National Award of Valor at the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) School Safety Conference next month. NASRO annually presents its National Award of Valor to five individuals “for acts of courage and valor above and beyond what would normally be expected.”

NASRO admired how the officers “ended the tragic shooting at The Covenant School March 27 by confronting and firing at the shooter, fatally wounding them within 14 minutes of the first report of the incident.”

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Tennessee Three Voted Against School Safety Bill amid Riot, Gun Control Controversy

On the same day that State Representatives Justin Jones (D-Nashville) and Justin Pearson (D-Memphis) were expelled from the Tennessee House of Representatives, they voted, along with State Representative Gloria Johnson (D-Knox County), against a school safety bill that overwhelmingly passed the legislative body.

The trio and State Representative Torrey Harris (D-Memphis) were the only House legislators that voted against House Bill 0322.

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Governor Lee Amends Proposed Legislation, FY23-24 Budget to Accommodate Stronger Measures to Strengthen School Safety

One week after the school shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville that left six dead, Governor Bill Lee proposed additional actions to strengthen safety at public and private schools across Tennessee, including amending the budget for fiscal year 2023-2034 as well as an existing bill making its way through the state legislature.

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Miyares Stops in Gilpin Court to Discuss School Safety, Hear Local Concerns

RICHMOND, Virginia — Attorney General Jason Miyares stopped at the Calhoun community center in Gilpin Court, a low-income neighborhood with a local reputation for violence. Miyares met privately with local leaders and parents and handed out backpacks with school supplies to residents as part of a series of stops he is making around Virginia.

“I came here to the Calhoun Center to hear what was happening, and what people are saying is happening,” Miyares told reporters after the Thursday meeting. “A lot of it was about school safety, but also about larger issues in the community.”

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Ohio to Spend Nearly $50 Million on School Safety

More than 1,000 Ohio schools in 81 of 88 counties will share $47 million in the state’s push to promote school safety, part of a response to a shooting at a Texas elementary school in May.

Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday grants of up to $50,000 will be used to cover expenses for security cameras, public address systems, automatic door locks, visitor badging systems, and exterior lighting. 

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DeWine to Ohio Superintendents: $100 Million Budgeted for School Safety Grants

Ohio schools will receive $100 million in total to purchase security equipment as part of the next round of K-12 School Safety Grants, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) wrote to superintendents on Friday.

The allocations, which come as a part of the state’s capital budget bill that DeWine signed into law last week, will go toward purchases such as outdoor lighting, facility-mapping software, school-radio systems, door-locking technology and visitor-badge systems. The Ohio School Safety Center in Columbus is now drafting the application for schools to access this money and expects to soon start the application process.

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National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Rick Scott on Bipartisan Senate Gun Deal: ‘If They Focus on Gun Control, There Won’t Be a Deal’

FRANKLIN, Tennessee – The chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), told the The Tennessee Star at the Williamson County GOP’s monthly mix and mingle event on Friday that he thinks the bipartisan deal on guns and school safety won’t go through if the focus is gun control.

In response to a question asked by The Star if he thought the deal would come to pass, Senator Scott said, “I think if they focus on school safety, there’s an opportunity. If they focus on gun control, there won’t be a deal.”

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Wisconsin DOJ Launches Critical Incident Response Teams for Schools Across the State

The Wisconsin Department of Justice announced new “Critical Incident Response Teams” for schools across the state.

The new program will train individuals to respond to critical incidents and “provide all Wisconsin K-12 public, private, charter and tribal schools with access to a regionally based team to support them if a critical incident ever occurs at their school.”

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Tennessee Sheriff to Potential School Shooters: ‘We Will Eliminate You’

After a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas sparked a conversation about school safety, a Tennessee sheriff sent a strong message to those who might consider perpetrating violence in his county’s schools. 

“Due to the recent school shootings, the latest occurring in Texas, as your Sheriff, who provides the Student Resource Deputies in each of the public schools in Putnam County, I want to provide a message to anyone thinking about committing an act of violence that would harm our children or faculty at our schools,” Putnam County Sheriff Eddie Farris said in a statement. 

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DeSantis Signs School Safety Bill

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed a school safety bill Tuesday that the Florida Legislature passed during its Special Legislative Session. The bill is built off of the recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission designed to make schools safer and offer resources to students and school employees.

DeSantis signed the bill on the heels of the Florida Freedom First budget where over $140 million was designated for mental health and approximately $210 million for school safety.

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Gov. Lee Signs Executive Order Addressing School Safety

Tennessee’s governor Monday signed an executive order meant to enhance school safety in the wake of a mass shooting at a high school in Uvalde, Texas. 

“Parents need to have full confidence that their children are safe at school, and thankfully, Tennessee has built a firm foundation with our practical approach to securing schools, recognizing crisis and providing confidential reporting of any suspicious activity,” said Gov. Bill Lee (R) in press release. “This order strengthens accountability and transparency around existing school safety planning and assures Tennessee parents that our efforts to protect students and teachers will continue.”

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State Reps. Share Support for the Victims of the Texas Shooting, Urge Action on Bills Enhancing School Safety in Arizona

Arizona State Representatives Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix) and Kevin Payne (R-Sun City) shared a statement of support for the victims of the recent Texas school shooting.

“Like all Americans, we stand with the victims, survivors, and grieving families of the horrific tragedy at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. We are grateful for the heroic members of law enforcement whose actions helped prevent any greater loss of life,” said Bolick and Payne said in a joint statement Thursday.

The two also highlighted current legislative efforts to boost school safety across Arizona.

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Sen. Chuck Schumer Rejects Sen. Ron Johnson’s School Safety Bill: ‘We Will Vote on Gun Legislation’

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) rejected a school safety bill proposed by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) Wednesday, one that had been promoted by several of the parents of victims of the 2018 Parkland school shooting.

Schumer dismissed the legislation, first introduced in 2019, on which the Parkland victims’ parents had collaborated, claiming the bill “could see more guns in schools” and touting, “I blocked it.”

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As Virginia Legislative Session Begins, Bills to Increase School Security Weighed

As the 2021-2022 legislative year begins in Virginia, one bill would mandate security protocols for school board meetings statewide.

HB 12 says schools would be required to “limit to the lowest feasible number the entry points in each public school building in the local school division” and “ensure that each individual who seeks to enter any school building in the local school division is screened with a handheld metal detector wand by a school security officer or another appropriate school board employee who is appropriately trained in such method of screening.”

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Florida’s Office of Safe Schools Facing Personnel Shortages, Extended Safety Needs

In 2018, the State of Florida launched the Office of Safe Schools within the Department of Education to determine the best practices to ensure Florida’s schools remain safe in the years following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

The office is scheduled to sunset in July 2023, and the chairman of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission in concerned about the office going forward regarding personnel and safe plans not being executed.

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Parents File Suit Against School District That Wants to Allow Teachers to Carry Guns

by Neetu Chandak   Parents and a grandparent filed a lawsuit against a Pennsylvania school district on Thursday over a policy allowing teachers to carry guns in school. Tamaqua Area School District in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, approved the policy in September 2018, according The Associated Press reported Friday. The policy allows teachers, staff and administration to carry district-issued guns after going through the appropriate training. The lawsuit claims approving the policy “endangered their community” and broke state law. “It’s uncharted territory, but there is no law that says we can’t have legally trained armed staff,” school board member Nicholas Boyle said, WHYY reported. State law allows campuses to have trained school resource officers or school police, The AP reported. Executive director for gun control group CeaseFirePA, Shira Goodman, said she found the district’s interpretation of the law questionable, WHYY reported. “I would say it’s not at all clear that they can be doing this,” Goodman said, according to WHYY. Boyle said that the initiative would make the rural school district less vulnerable against an attacker, according to WHYY. “The rationale for the policy is to prevent the apocalypse,” Boyle said, The AP reported. “When we have a shooter in the building,…

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Commentary: Now That School Security is a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry, is There a Better Way to Protect Children?

by Kerry McDonald   U.S. taxpayers spend nearly $700 billion each year on K-12 public schooling and that eye-popping sum shows no sign of slowing. In fact, as more non-academic programs get adopted in schools across the country, the price-tag for mass schooling continues to swell even as achievement lags. One ballooning school expenditure is the vast amount of money allocated to school safety. U.S. schools now spend an estimated $2.7 billion on security features, from automatically locking doors, to video surveillance and facial recognition software. That amount doesn’t include the additional billions of dollars spent on armed guards at schools. Federal spending on school security is also rising, with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently awarding a $2.3 million grant to train high school students how to act like first responders in the event of a mass casualty, like a school shooting. These enhanced security and training mechanisms may seem justified, particularly in the wake of deadly mass school shootings like the massacre in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people dead. But school shootings are exceedingly rare. As Harvard University instructor, David Ropeik, writes in the Washington Post: “The chance of a child being shot and killed in…

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MSM’s Exaggeration of School Shootings Not in Line With Reality

Steve Gill

On Monday’s Gill Report – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 1510 WLAC weekdays at 7:30 am – Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill explained how the media’s overblown commentary and emotional stirring of paranoia regarding school shootings is unrealistic in comparison to the death of children in common day bike, helmet, and car wrecks.  Gill goes on to comment that “ten times more kids are killed each year walking to school than are killed in these school shootings.” He continued: A new US Department of Education study is not getting a lot of media attention. But it did get a little bit of attention from NPR. Not exactly a bastion of conservative news media. Now they examined the US Department of Education’s study and discovered that over sixty six percent of reported school shootings for the 2015 and 2016 school year, never occurred. Yet the education department claims there were nearly two hundered and forty schools which reported at least one incident involving a school reported, or school related shooting. But when NPR contacted the schools in the districts, they were able to substantiate that one hundred and sixty-one, of the  two hundred and forty incidents quote, ‘never happened’. NEVER…

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Tennessee Firearms Association Says Gubernatorial Candidates Need to Hear from More Teachers About School Safety

armed teachers

John Harris, Executive Director of the Tennessee Firearms Association (TFA), says Tennessee’s candidates for Governor need to listen to more teachers before they speak for teachers. Harris was referring to whether teachers who have a carry permit should be allowed to carry on campus in order to protect themselves, their students and their colleagues in the event of a school shooting situation. Currently, less than half of Tennessee’s 1800 schools have an armed School Resource Officer (SRO) on campus leaving most Tennessee school children vulnerable. During Tuesday night’s gubernatorial forum in Nashville, three of the five major candidates participating indicated that they opposed allowing trained and permitted teachers to carry their weapons on school grounds as an additional line of protection in the event of a shooting incident on campus. Democrats Craig Fitzhugh and Karl Dean, and Republican Beth Harwell all indicated that they did not support allowing teachers to be armed. Governor Bill Haslam, Vanderbilt professors, and the Tennessee teachers’ union (Tennessee Education Association) strongly opposed legislation sponsored by David Byrd (R-Waynesboro) that would have permitted teachers to carry guns on campus. Republicans Bill Lee and Randy Boyd both said they supported allowing teachers who wished to do so, and were…

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Sharp Partisan Divide over Arming Teachers to Provide Protection for Davidson County Schools

School safety - armed versus unarmed protection

In the wake of the terrible school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, many have suggested that allowing teachers who have been trained in the use of firearms, and who choose to be armed, be added as a level of protection at schools throughout the U.S. Some Tennessee schools have armed Student Resource Officers (SROs) but many others rely upon unarmed security officers or have no security on site at all. A recent Tennessee Star poll by Triton Research, which conducted an automated poll of 607 likely voters in Davidson County over a two day period April 12-13, 2018, asked respondents: Do you support or oppose allowing teachers who have a permit to carry a gun being allowed to have their gun with them at school if they wish, after they have had some additional training and certification? Davidson County self-identified “likely voters” opposed arming teachers by a 54.6% to 38.8% margin, with 6.6% undecided. However, there was a clear distinction between the views of Republican and Democrat voters on the issue. Republicans SUPPORTED allowing trained and certified teachers to be armed on school campuses by 74% to 19%. 7% were undecided. Democrats OPPOSED the idea…

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