Justice Reports A 'Good Year' For School Safety


June 12, 2017

“We had a good year as far as safe schools go,” Alan Justice, director of athletics, transportation and safe schools, informed the Transylvania County Board of Education last Monday evening.

Justice credited the School Resource Officers (SROs) as instrumental in keeping the schools safe.

“The SROs this year taught 352 classes,” he said. “They had 3,585 student contacts. That’s one student contact for every kid, almost. That’s impressive.”

Justice said the SRO’s also had 975 parent contacts, had 209 home visits and attended 254 sporting events.

Board member Betty Scruggs McGaha said one of the purposes of having SROs in the school is to build that relationship with law officers.

Last year, the school system had 13 reportable crimes, said Justice. Right now the system is looking at 15 to 18 reportable crimes.

He said “reportables” are incidents the state requires to be reported but they do not necessarily result in charges.

Justice said there were 179 short-term suspensions and five long-term suspensions last year and “the numbers look pretty close to the same this year.”

He said there were six positive drug tests this year: three at Brevard High and three at Rosman High. They tested 334 students out of 2,000 in the testing pool. The school system policy allows for random drug testing of any student participating in an extracurricular activity, a competitive club or who parks a vehicle on campus. The drug of choice for those testing positive is marijuana.

“The numbers have been steadily dropping over the eight years,” said Justice, adding that they used to have 12-15 students test positive several years ago.

In discussing a recent lockdown at Rosman High/Middle schools, Justice said the students, staff, SROs and Sheriff’s Office were “tremendous” in handling the situation. He said they followed the proper procedures for such a situation.

“It went really well,” he said. “Teachers that felt like their room wasn’t secure enough stacked desks in front of the door, which is exactly what they’re supposed to do.”

Justice said the Sheriff’s Office had nothing “but great things to say” as to how teachers and students responded to the situation.

School board member Alice Wellborn asked if there is a policy regarding students using cell phones during lockdowns.

“I heard that was a problem,” said Wellborn.

“I think in a situation like that, being a cell phone Nazi is not going to help the situation,” said Justice. “I think students sending out texts is going to be inevitable. I think students sending out Facebook posts is going to be inevitable.”

“When it’s time to get serious, I find that students get serious,” he said.

Justice said if one parent knows their child is all right, that is one less parent rushing to the school.

“The worst misinformation out there was coming from external sources rather than internal,” said Superintendent Dr. Jeff McDaris.

Justice did say the school system has to do a better job of getting the information out first. Board member Marty Griffin said the public is interested in knowing what happened at Rosman.

Since the incident involved a student, any actions fall under student discipline, which is not public record. The school board can be informed of the investigation and its results, but not the general public.

Stellar Year In Sports

Justice said the school system had a stellar year in sports.

He said several teams did well, especially the girls’ cross-country team, which won another state title. The teams in spring sports fared the best overall, with all of them making the state playoffs and some of them advancing to the state championship.

“I know track really shined,” said Justice.

He said he believes Brevard High will rank in the Top 10 for overall athletics for this year.

Justice credited athletic directors Mick Galloway and John Chlemar for recruiting good coaches.

McGaha said the more school activities a student participates in, the better they perform academically.

“Our hats are off to our coaches,” said McGaha.

“We have two outstanding high school athletic programs,” said Griffin.

Other News

•The school board passed an interim budget, which will cover costs until the state approves its budget. Both the state Senate and House have passed their individual budgets, but they must now reconcile their differences.

•McDaris reported that Transylvania County and six other districts in this region will no longer receive RLIS (Rural Low Income School) funding. He said the coding has been changed so that if just one school in a district is within 10 miles of a urbanized center, then no school in the entire district would qualify for RLIS funding.

McDaris said when he inquired to find out what urban center any county school was close to, he learned that Brevard is now considered an “urban cluster” because it has more than 2,500 people.

He said, however, that school systems such as Lee County, that contains the town of Sanford with 29,000 people, is not considered an urban cluster and is still eligible for RLIS funds.

“Quite frankly, it does not make any sense to me right now,” said McDaris.

The school system had used RLIS funding for a social worker position.

•The board unanimously approved the Career-Technical Education plan for the upcoming year.


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