U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) met with school superintendents and police officers Friday morning in Noblesville to discuss school safety and mental health. Noblesville West Middle School has been a focus of school safety talks since a shooting there in May.
Brooks is the founder and co-chair of the Congressional School Safety Caucus. She commented on U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ possible reallocation of federal funds to allow states to purchase guns for schools.
“Every school district that I’ve talked to in the 5th [Congressional District] wants to have school resource officers,” Brooks says. “School resource officers, some are armed some are not armed.”
School resource officers are police officers trained to work with children, and Brooks says she knows many districts don’t have the funding and that’s where her focus lies.
“However, if there is no school resource officer and if, particularly in rural areas, a sheriff’s department is very far away and would have a difficult time responding to an incident –– I have talked to school principles that have said, ‘I would like to have access to a weapon so I could stop a shooter,’” Brooks says.
This was not the case at Noblesville West Middle School where school resource officers responded quickly after a student and teacher were shot and injured.
Much of the morning’s meeting was focused on communication and mental health.
The superintendent of Zionsville schools, Scott Robison, says they have implemented a team of social workers and community leaders to work with school counselors and principles in assisting the mental health of students.
“We have robust staffing and counseling because it is needed, anxiety and stress have never been higher in our culture,” Robison says. “We were beginning to see stress being addressed by our counselors at grade kindergarten.”
During the meeting, superintendents shared how they plan to handle school safety in the upcoming school year from telehealth counseling to trying to bring police officers closer to schools.