LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara said Wednesday he is appealing to the state legislature for more money and to parents for more scrutiny in an effort to improve school safety.
In a media briefing at the district offices that included law enforcement agencies and school officials, Jara is hoping for $21 million in state funds to make district campuses safer next year. And he also urged parents to be more involved with what their children are doing, in school and out, and who they’re doing it with.
The pleas come with eight days left in the school year and with local authorities hoping when kids leave the classrooms for summer vacation they’ll find ways to be safe and sound.
Jara said CCSD police confiscated 30 firearms on campuses this school year, including five from when adults visited school properties. Also, 35 BB guns and 182 knives were confiscated, he said. Last year, 33 firearms were confiscated, according to Jara and CCSD Police Chief Henry Blackeye.
“These are community challenges that are coming into our schools,” Jara said, “and unacceptable numbers for me as an educator and a father.”
Jara was not specific about his request to the state for more money or how it would be used to tighten security, other than to say it would be for “additional security, including hiring more police officers for the district.” More metal detectors, part of a planned pilot program, and a clear backpack requirement for students also could be part of the funding. Jara’s reasoning: “So our children are safe and our teachers can teach.”
Jara said $85 million this year went to increased security, and those measures helped. “Educators feel safer,” he said. “That is worth the money we are spending, so my teachers, my principals, my staff feel safe in school.”
Blackeye and Evelyn Garcia Morales, school board trustee president, joined Jara in urging parents to be more involved with their kids to help improve campus safety.
Jara said he had two sons who went through the public school system and often got up at 2 a.m. to check the backpacks they were bringing to school the next day.
Garcia Morales, also urging parental involvement, said: “Our schools must be safe environments where children can learn and grow.”
Blackeye asked that parents secure their firearms, making sure their children can’t get at them. Several firearms the district confiscated this year, he said, were related to families not keeping them out of the reach of children.
He also put some pressure on parents, saying “Know what your kids are doing and who they’re doing it with. … Parents, do you know where your child’s at?”
Both Blackeye and Jara asked parents to develop some type of system to check on their kids’ activities.
“You need a system to check on them,” Blackeye said. “It’s an obligation every parent has.”