School safety survey: What Montgomery Co. students say they want

WASHINGTON — The Montgomery County Public School system has released its final report on school safety, which includes results from a survey showing students in the Maryland county support stronger security measures.

The report is the follow-up to a review of school security practices that began last year.

Along with a 45-day action plan, the study includes results from a survey of more than 1,000 students. Among the findings: 32 percent of students said they wanted more security cameras and improved systems to allow classroom doors to be secured from inside. And 20 percent said they wanted more security staff members or school resource officers.

Montgomery County Public Schools spokesman Derek Turner said the results are not surprising.

“Our SRO’s — the ones that have been in our buildings — have been more than just a person with a badge. They’ve been someone who the students can talk to and engage with,” he said.

Thirteen percent of the students responding to the survey said they wanted more access to mental health support.

Turner said administrators are rolling out a new suicide-awareness program to all secondary schools in the coming school year.

The survey was conducted in May and given to graduating seniors, Turner said.

“One of the things that we know about seniors — when they’re about to graduate, they’re candid about their concerns,” he said.

As part of the review of safety and security, the report noted that many conflicts between students have their roots in online behavior.

Having a staff member at each school check social media is being considered, Turner said. That doesn’t mean that a staff member will be lurking on students’ social media accounts, Turner said. Instead, it means being aware of mentions on social media.

“They’ll look for things that seem out of the ordinary — hashtags that are trending,” Turner explained. “Often when these conflicts start arising, there are students who will tweet at the school system, or tweet at a principal or staff member because they want us to be engaged.”

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