FORT WAYNE – Ken Trump says school safety and security have been hijacked and politicized by gun rights and gun control activists.
But Trump, a national school safety expert, said that’s not the case in Fort Wayne Community Schools, where the topic of how to keep students and educators safe is an ongoing conversation, not one dependent on national news headlines.
“Fort Wayne Community Schools has always been proactive,” he said.
Trump, president and CEO of National School Safety and Security Services, is visiting the district this week to review the district’s student resource officer program and security staffing.
The visit was scheduled even before the fatal shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which sparked a national debate about gun laws.
A bill requiring an armed “school protection officer” in every Indiana school is currently up for a vote in the House.
Trump said that, at the national and state levels, the discussion has turned to gun control or arming school officials instead of a focus on getting principals more resources.
“There’s more than just guns that threaten school safety,” said Trump, whose business is based in Cleveland.
He pointed to a clear link between violence in a community and school safety and security. FWCS and other large, urban school districts recognize this and do a good job of making sure students feel safe in school because for some children school is the safest and most constant support system in their lives, he said.
Often the perception is that urban districts aren’t as safe, but Trump disputes that idea.
“Especially large urban districts provide not only education, but additional services they don’t get funding for before they can even educate a child,” he said.
FWCS also provides a free breakfast and lunch program, child psychology services, assistance for homeless families and help to match families with the right social services in the community.
Charles Cammack, chief operations officer in the district, said FWCS makes school safety a priority.
“We take the security and safety of our buildings very seriously,” he said.
Despite cuts in funding for schools, the district has maintained a strong level of security, Trump said.
Cammack said the district’s entire security budget is slightly less than $700,000. The Fort Wayne Police Department shares the cost of providing six student resource officers, who are trained police officers, to the district’s 51 school buildings.
Many initiatives take more time than money, and the district has also worked to foster strong relationships between students and school resource officers and between the district and the Fort Wayne Police Department to ensure a more safe and secure environment, Trump said.
Trump’s visit is part of a routine process where the district “fine tunes” its procedures based on Trump’s recommendations to continue following best practices to ensure safety in schools, Cammack said.
Trump has worked with the district for about a decade, FWCS spokeswoman Krista Stockman said. This visit by Trump is especially important as the district prepares for the retirement of Security Director John Weiker, she said.
Several years ago, Trump worked with the district on safety procedures. More recently, he’s provided training to school resource officers and school personnel on bullying and an evaluation of security for public events, such as board meetings and athletic events.
“We’re doing our best, but we can never be too good,” Trump said.