“Our schools are safe,” says Superintendent Burns

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By Anne H. Oman
Reporter-At-Large
February 26, 2018 7:25 a.m.

Nassau County Administration Building Photo courtesy of Chris Whelan

“Our schools are safe, “ Nassau County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kathy Knight Burns told the Fernandina Observer in a phone interview, adding: “Since the beginning of the school year we have been meeting regularly and working on various items to make them safer. There’s always more that we can do to make them safer.”

Armed School Resource Officers are at every high school and middle school in the county, and detailed safety plans are in place, she said.

She added that she is meeting with the Sheriff next week to see how we can move forward on school safety.

“Mental health has to be addressed,” she said.

She said that school personnel actively look for warning signs of mental health problems and refer students who show such signs to mental health services, and that the school system will be exploring ways to make improve mental health screening.

Dr. Burns said she knows the school superintendent in Broward County and that that district has a mulit-million- dollar program called “I Am Listening” to screen for mental health problems.

“That young man obviously fell through the cracks,” she said of the Parkland shooter.

Dr. Burns expressed reservations about President Trump’s call to arm teachers.

“As an educator, I think that’s one more thing to ask teachers to do and be responsible for,” she said.

Asked about whether students here were becoming activist in the mode of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas students who are pushing for an assault weapons ban, Dr. Burns said she had seen no evidence of it.

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Editor’s Note: Anne H. Oman relocated to Fernandina Beach from Washington, D.C. Her articles have appeared in The Washington Post, The Washington Star, The Washington Times, Family Circle and other publications. We thank Anne for her contributions to the Fernandina Observer.

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6 Responses to “Our schools are safe,” says Superintendent Burns

  1. Malcolm Noden says:

    Just a cautionary note. I visit the FBHS every week to work for an hour with the young man who is sponsored by Take Stock in Chldren, (TSIC), and for whom I act as a mentor. Everyone should be aware that the buildings are completely open to the parking lot, and during the past 2 years I have never seen, or met, any school resource officer. All TSIC mentors, (and all other visitors), are asked to check-in with the school office, which we do, and we are given a sticker to wear which identifies u, and our mission in the school. But, it is clear, that anyone who wants to do so can gain admission to a building with no barriers of any kind.

  2. Nancy Dickson says:

    Armed officers at Parkland did nothing to stop the carnage. I, too, an a mentor for Take Stock. Even though my sticker is not always visible, no one associated with the school has ever asked me who I was or what I was doing there. As long as there are as millions of weapons floating around our country, no place is “safe.”

  3. Diana Herman says:

    As a grandparent of a Yulee Primary student, I have attended the school on several occasions for different school events. One morning, after hearing gunshots, I reported this to school employees. I was told there is a shooting range next to the school. If there ever was an incident at the school, who would be able to tell that the gunshots were not coming from the shooting range? Students and most likely teachers are used to hearing gunshots throughout their school day. I find that very upsetting and quite disturbing. Something needs to be done to remedy this situation.

  4. Christine Corso says:

    Based upon the previous commentary with its underlying consensus that local school buildings are open to anyone and that no one appears to ask who or why a non-staff person is roaming around, Dr. Burns “Our schools are safe “statement needs to be reexamined. Parkland is not the first school shooting. Appalled that a gun range is in proximity to a school. How did that happen? Why would the school board approve construction of a school near a gun range?

  5. I second Ms. Corso. point for point. In the State of Florida, with Non-existent firearm laws, hell Bubba can buy an assault weapon out of the back of a van. No public school child is safe, period.!! Security officers should challenge every person coming on the school grounds. Everytime. Why the hell, do we continue to have these problems in our Society.? Do we not cherish our Children over guns.? What’s wrong with us. Secure the Schools, Ban all civilian Assault Weapons, and Massive Clips, Stricter gun legislation in all states. Plus accountability on all Ammunition Sales. That’s a start. This is no infringement on the second amendment. It does not state, that anyone should own a hand held Machine of Mass Murder.

  6. Chris Whelan says:

    Remember Florida the “Gunshine State” has this law on the books – “A person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if: He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself,” the Florida law states Jul 3, 2017
    If you arm educators in schools across Florida the ‘Stand Your Ground’ statute will still apply. We don’t need situations, where confrontations between students and teachers escalate to the use of deadly force or a student, overpowers a teacher and obtains their gun and uses a gun where none would have existed. Even trained law enforcement officers have their weapons taken from them from time to time during confrontations. It’s an insane suggestion to an out of control situation to gun violence in America.
    The simple solution? Remove access to these weapons of mass destruction from society once and for all. Don’t let the NRA backed politicians terrorize us by adding more guns to an already over-gunned society.

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