EKY school prioritizing student safety in light of recent school shooting

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 5:30
Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 5:20 PM EST
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - According to the Gun Violence Archive, 67 mass shootings have been reported so far in 2023.

School safety concerns have heightened across the country as school shootings have become more common from one state to another.

“The world we live in today you just can’t think oh we live in Eastern Kentucky that won’t happen,” said Sondra Combs, Superintendent of Hazard Independent Schools.

Superintendent Combs said the safety of their students and staff is a main focus each year. She added that emergency plans and monthly emergency drills are vital to that safety.

“We meet with city police, emergency responders and emergency personnel for the county. We all get together and have a big safety meeting and make sure that our emergency plan is in line with everything that happens,” said Combs.

She also added SRO officers, like Timothy Engle, are important for additional security at the schools each day, but Engle said his job is more than that.

“You’re more a dad or a grandpa than a cop. You know there’s probably one or two percent of cop duties that you have to handle but I can say that all the resource office that I know around this county especially are highly trained,” said Timothy Engle, SRO at Hazard Middle School.

Engle said he is always monitoring incoming visitors and scanning cameras while also paying attention to concerns from students or staff. He said he is a former Kentucky State Police Trooper, but each SRO is also trained and ready to act in any situation.

“It’s very good classes that you have to go through,” he said. “It actually the biggest thing is it tells you a lot of in-depth things about school shootings. What happened, why it happened, what times they happened, what weapons were used. What clues could you have had if you would have known it was a clue.”

Superintendent Combs and Engle both said it is vital for parents and teachers to report to the school if a child said anything regarding concerns or weapon access regarding another student.