Franklin County School Superintendent Thanks Local Law Enforcement

Franklin County School Superintendent Dr. Ruth O’Dell says she is grateful for the support the Franklin County School System has received from local law enforcement and she’s thanking them in person.

Ever since the Connecticut school shootings in December, extra law enforcement have been patrolling the halls of all four elementary schools, the middle school and the high school.

Last month, Lavonia Police Chief Bruce Carlisle, Lavonia mayor Ralph Owens, and city manager Gary Fesperman were recognized by the Franklin County School Board at their work session for their efforts at providing extra security at Lavonia Elementary School.

There, they were presented with a certificate of appreciation for their work in developing a security protocol for the school system.

Lavonia Police also developed the training for the active shooter program Police Chief Bruce Carlisle said.  At Dr. O’Dell’s request, he took that training to every school to educate teachers and staff about what happens during a situation like the one in Sandy Hook in order to reassure them that local law enforcement is able to handle such a crisis situation.

“We really appreciate the recognition but we couldn’t do it without the support of citizens,” said Lavonia Police Chief Bruce Carlisle. “Not only here in Lavonia, but in Franklin County, we are ready if, God forbid, something like that were to occur.”

At the Royston City Council meeting Tuesday night, O’Dell said just seeing the officers on school campuses have helped to ease parents fears.

“I want you to know how much we appreciated it and how we hope we can continue to do this,” O’Dell told the council and police chief. “I’ve heard over and over again from parents how scared they were that Monday to bring their children (to school).”

Since December, O’Dell said she has been meeting regularly with law enforcement from Royston, Lavonia, and the Franklin County Sheriff’s office to discuss ways to improve security at the schools.

O’Dell said having officers patrolling the halls at Royston Elementary and the other elementary schools has been an education for the school system in identifying areas where security measures need to be tightened.

“There’s so many things we’ve learned from them, too,” she said. “Like a door propped open that shouldn’t be. Things that we get used to not seeing. Also, parents who come in to school from time to time who are upset.  It helps to have that police presence there so we don’t have parents going directly to a classroom disrupting it. There all sorts of examples I could give you.”

O’Dell said the school system intends to do whatever it can to continue working with local law enforcement.

“Like everyone else we have the same financial problems that everybody does, but there are in-kind things that we can do,” O’Dell said. “We heard about a school system in South Carolina where they actually have an office inside the school for the officer with a computer, etc. so they can get paperwork done and other things while they’re in school.  We have offered that kind of thing. Anything we can do  to make it a productive time for your people that are with us.”

Royston Elementary will have a larger student population next year, according to O’Dell.

She said the student body will be approximately 540 students due to some reshuffling at Carnesville Elementary and Central Franklin Elementary schools.

After hearing from O’Dell Royston Police Chief Donnie Boleman said they plan to continue overseeing the children at Royston Elementary.  And mayor David Jordan thanked Dr. O’Dell for coming in person to speak to the council.