Governor McMaster's Forum Brings Ideas For Student Safety In SC Schools

Governor Henry McMaster (WCIV)

Mental health diagnosis and technology upgrades were just two ideas talked about at a school security summit held by Governor Henry McMaster. It was titled “Pathways To Protection: A Roadmap For Student Safety In South Carolina”.

The My Carolina Alumni Center is where he hosted an open forum on Thursday afternoon. The University of South Carolina Children’s Law Center and the Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children are helping the governor’s office.

Police, lawmakers, mental health experts, teachers, and school crisis prevention experts offered their thoughts on what needs to be done. Many of them agree mental health professionals need to be hired.

“There needs to be a secure entrance into a school that all children, everybody is buzzed in and buzzed out,” said State Rep. Rita Allison, a Republican from Spartanburg.

Governor McMaster listened as they mentioned areas of improvement to school buildings.

“We have some beautiful facilities being built. But they’re not always built with safety as the number one priority. And I think need to go back and review those,” admitted Molly Spearman, South Carolina Education Superintendent.

“Putting different technology in our schools can actually be a huge problem with how old the school is,” said Jacorie McCall, a senior at Dillon High School.

“Department of Education, law enforcement, mental health seems to be the ones often times that are underfunded,” added David Mathis, deputy superintendent for the South Carolina Department of Education.

State Representative Shannon Erickson, a Republican from Beaufort, explained new money isn’t necessarily needed. She believes reallocating current funding could pay for upgrades. The governor has proposed a $5 million dollar pilot program that would place law enforcement in South Carolina schools.

“We must be sure we have first of all a trained police officer. A trained certified armed police officer in every school. Every day. Anytime a child is there in every county in our state,” he said.

A spokesman for Governor McMaster told ABC News 4 information from this meeting could be used to write a bill that would be proposed in the General Assembly. There’s cautious optimism because Democrats and Republicans appear to have common ground on some of these ideas.

In the executive budget, Governor McMaster has fully funded the Department of Mental Health’s request of $250,000 for its school-based services.

State Senator Brad Hutto, a Democrat from Orangeburg, thanked the governor for convening the forum. State Representative Marvin Pendarvis, a Democrat from North Charleston, also attended the event.

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