Butler County sheriff, school leaders react to Texas school shooting

Area school leaders pointed Friday to the Texas school shooting as another in a long list of reasons why they are working to improve school security.

But the top law enforcement officer in Butler County said some school districts aren’t moving fast enough and falling short.

The shooting deaths of 10 — nine students, one teacher — and wounding of at least six others Friday morning at the Santa Fe High School grabbed the attention of local school leaders as did the Parkland, Fla., school shooting in February that left 17 dead.

Edgewood Schools Superintendent Russ Fussnecker said the horrific killings further reinforced his Butler County district’s decision to add armed school security officers to all its school buildings.

“This tragedy reaffirms our decision to add additional SROs (school resource officers) to our district,” said Fussnecker of Edgewood’s decision to add armed officers in all five schools of the rural district.

“This was the best investment we could make to protect our students and staff. We take seriously our responsibility to ensure the safety of our students and staff every day,” he said.

Earlier this week in Illinois at Dixon High School, a student fired shots at school resource officer Mark Dallas. Dallas returned fire and wounded the shooter.

In March in Maryland, an armed school officer at Great Mills High School fired on a student shooter who had wounded two, bringing him down.

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones — a long-time advocate for adding armed personnel to schools — took to social media in the hours after the Santa Fe school shooting to repeat his earlier, public pressuring of local school officials to move faster to make sure every school has either armed officers, personnel or at least access to weapons for properly trained school staffers.

“When will it be clear what we need to do to protect our children?” Jones tweeted today on his social media account.

In a short, online video posted on Facebook, Jones also said “I’m telling you — and I’ve been saying all along — we have got to take care of our schools.”

“We got to make them a hard target (armed) not a soft target. And this is for the school boards, pay attention. Make these schools safe. We need school resource officers in every school and we need to arm the personnel in there,” said Jones, who in the wake of the Parkland school shooting deaths offered free concealed carry weapon (CCW) training for Butler County teachers.

“School boards, it’s on you. It’s your responsibility,” said Jones, who has promised to post billboard messages critical of elected school boards he believes are lagging in school security.

Matt Miller, superintendent of Lakota Schools — Butler County’s largest school system — said Friday the Texas school shooting was both heartbreakingly sad and further motivation to continue his district’s security improvements already in motion.

“It gives us pause and makes us reflect on the current practices and the direction we’ve been going with (school) safety,” said Miller, who oversees the 16,500-student district and its 22 school buildings.

“We have cameras and many other things in our buildings that we have increased” this school year, he said, in addition to armed security officers supplied by both the Butler County Sheriff, which patrols Liberty Twp. schools and West Chester Twp. Police, who patrol Lakota schools there.

“But it’s another sad day and we’ve had too many of these,” he said.

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