Loudoun Co. should add security officers at elementary schools, panel recommends

Loudoun County Public Schools should add security personnel at elementary schools and boost security at after-school events, according to recommendations from a group tasked with reviewing the Virginia school district’s safety and security protocols.

Superintendent Aaron Spence put together the group, called the Blue Ribbon Panel, last December. It is made up of law enforcement officials, teachers and principals.

One of the group’s recommendations, the school district said, is to add security coverage to elementary schools.

Currently, every middle and high school is assigned a school resource officer, which spokesman Dan Adams described as a sworn police officer with one of the school system’s partner law enforcement agencies, usually the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office or Leesburg Police Department.

Parents have sometimes inquired about adding SROs to elementary school campuses, Adams said. However, the county could also consider using school safety officers, which are school district employees and not law enforcement. The district also has a contract with a third-party security firm that could be extended to cover elementary campuses, Adams said.

“When we look at school safety, and student and staff welfare, we’re also looking at things like your medical emergencies and things of that nature,” Adams said. “Or things that happen maybe in the community that have the potential to wander onto the school property. LCPS is very proud that it takes a very strategic, very broad view of school safety.”

The recommendations also call for bolstering security personnel at after-school events. Those type of events are increasing, because the school district expanded athletics into some middle schools as part of a pilot program this year. Such events, Adams said, “could draw quite a few people.”

Because of the number of after-school events the county may have on a given day, resources “have the potential to be stretched kind of thin,” he said.

“It’s the security presence, to provide emergency first responder medical care, whatever the situation is,” Adams said. “We want to make sure that we have those resources available and to provide that presence.”

Other recommendations include making sure there’s WiFi coverage in entire school buildings, including hallways, and making sure SROs are involved in every threat assessment.

The panel also recommended the creation of an alternative education site “to allow for enhanced security measures for high-risk students,” according to a news release. Adams didn’t offer specific information about who qualifies as a high-risk student.

The group is also calling for the district to create a social media and cybersecurity best practices course that would have to be completed by “key stakeholders” within the division.

The school system is seeking feedback on the panel’s recommendations online through May 9. Then, Spence and the school board will work together to determine if and how to move forward with the panel’s ideas.

“(We’re) really trying to cover all the different bases when it comes to school safety,” Adams said.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2024 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up