Parents Of Bailey Holt And Preston Cope To Address Ky. School Safety Working Group

Jul 6, 2018

A legislative committee on school safety in Kentucky will hear input on Monday from the parents of the students killed in the January Marshall County High School shooting and others when the group convenes in Trigg County.

Republican State Senator Danny Carroll is a member of the bipartisan 2018 School Safety Working Group. His district includes Marshall County High School, where police say a shooter opened fire on classmates killing two and injuring 14 others on January 23.

The working group was formed in May, after the MCHS shooting and others around the country. The meeting Monday at Trigg County High School will be the group's third. 

Trigg County Public Schools Superintendent Travis Hamby said his school was selected to host the meeting due to their implementation of a program called ‘Sources Of Strength’. He said the committee is interested in learning more about the program and said students will speak about it at the meeting.

Sen. Carroll said the idea of the group is to listen to experts, families, students, teachers and others and to publish a report to use as the basis for legislation that he hopes will help school districts have resources to fall back on.

He said lawmakers wanted to be cautious on the issue of school safety and not make "knee-jerk reactions" but rather develop legislation that is effective and sustainable. He said he didn't want to create unfunded mandates for schools through blanket policies that didn't apply in parts of the state.

Carroll said he's finding that local school districts are addressing the issue of school safety themselves. For example, Fayette Schools are planning $13 million dollars in upgrades. Marshall County High School is undergoing renovations and security changes, including clear backpacks.

He said the group will consider issues including basic school design, resource officers, arming teachers, training and mental health.

"I fully anticipate there will be legislation dealing with each area and helping to support our schools and giving them some options and some support as we move forward," Carroll said.

The group on Monday will hear input from Marshall County Schools Superintendent Trent Lovett as well as the parents of Bailey Holt and Preston Cope, two 15-year-olds killed in the January shooting.

"It's pretty much wide open for them and giving them the opportunity to speak their mind and share what their thoughts are with the group," Carroll said. He said he hopes Lovett and the victims' parents will share their input and experience, talk about response efforts in Marshall County, what was done well and what they think could have been better.

The education committee meeting begins at 11 a.m. The work group convenes at Noon. The meetings are open to the public.

Carroll said he hopes a future meeting will strictly focus on student feedback.

A variety of school safety measures were proposed in the last legislative session, but failed to pass. However, a provision incentivizing police to hire retired officers as school resource officers did pass as part of a larger revenue measure.