RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Safety remains top of mind for Richmond Public School leaders ahead of the upcoming school year.
A 15-point safety plan was outlined by Richmond Public School superintendent Jason Kamras with recommendations for schools across the city. This plan outlines ways to address various topics such as mental health, equipment and personnel in Richmond’s schools. It also proposes limiting cell phone access in some schools.
The plan was introduced to school board members at their monthly meeting on Monday, July 10, and some members had concerns regarding the plan.
8News spoke one-on-one with one of the board members, Kenya Gibson.
“We have to prioritize because, at the end of the day, we cannot risk the safety of our students and staff,” Gibson said. ” Please just understand I’m a parent and I’m scared and there are a couple of significant things that are missing in this document.”
Gibson told 8News there is a security weakness in the side doors of school buildings in the district.
“At George Wythe High School, there’s so many doors, so many ways people are able to get in and it’s very likely that the loaded gun that was discovered came in through a side door,” Gibson said. “After that happened, I believe that staff were told to monitor the staff a bit more but I know that kids still get DoorDash from the side doors from time to time.”
Gibson also mentioned the potential entry to side doors at the Huguenot High School graduation mass shooting where a student and his step-father lost their lives and many others were injured.
Another topic Gibson is wary of is the proposal for an annual external review from city fire and law enforcement first responders. This proposes the creation of a task force comprised of representatives from Richmond Police, Fire and Emergency Management to help monitor the implementation of school safety policies.
“If we want to prevent those things from happening, that’s our responsibility as a school district, and so outsourcing that, giving somebody else our homework to do – it’s simply not okay,” Gibson said.
The plan also recommends initiatives for greater mental health outreach in schools, increased personnel and the decrease of cellphone usage among certain students.
“When it comes to cellphones, I’m completely in support that something has to be done,” Gibson said. “As a board member, I visited schools and students are often not paying attention, they’re on their phones, so, from an academic standpoint, it seems like pretty much common sense and I know it’s a big factor when it comes to security as well.”
There is currently no concrete security plan in place for Richmond Public Schools.
Superintendent Kamras plans to make adjustments to the plan and present it to board members again at an upcoming board meeting.