The School Newspaper of Lawrence High School.
Superintendent+Anthony+Lewis+meets+speaks+during+a+community+meeting+at+Lawrence+High+School+on+Thursday+night+to+address+school+safety+issues.
Back to Article
Back to Article

Community gathers to discuss school safety

Superintendent Anthony Lewis meets speaks during a community meeting at Lawrence High School on Thursday night to address school safety issues.

Superintendent Anthony Lewis meets speaks during a community meeting at Lawrence High School on Thursday night to address school safety issues.

Emily Kruse

Superintendent Anthony Lewis meets speaks during a community meeting at Lawrence High School on Thursday night to address school safety issues.

Emily Kruse

Emily Kruse

Superintendent Anthony Lewis meets speaks during a community meeting at Lawrence High School on Thursday night to address school safety issues.

Community gathers to discuss school safety

Hundreds attend talk Thursday night prompted by recent incidents of guns being brought to school

Navigate Left
Navigate Right
  • Senior Baxter Spielman sits and listens to the speakers at the Community Safety meeting on Feb. 21. After two firearms and a taser was found on Lawrence High campus the week before, this community meeting was held to receive community input on how administration can improve student safety.

  • Junior Oscar Schmidt looks at the floor as fellow students, staff and parents within Lawrence Public Schools discuss the weapons brought to school, and possible solutions to improve student safety at the Community Safety Meeting held on Feb. 21.

  • Lawrence High science teacher Andrew Bricker sits with LHS parent during the Community Safety Meeting to discuss questions on how to improve student safety within Lawrence Public Schools on Feb. 21. Held in response to two firearms and a taser being found on campus the week before, discussions focused on what was being done well to enforce safety, and what needs to be better.

  • Interacting with students, Superintendent Anthony Lewis gets input from those who attended the Community Safety Meeting addressing weapons brought on Lawrence High campus on Feb. 21. Lewis' goal of the meeting was to reassure parents that the safety of staff and students was the most important.

  • Former speech and language pathologist Deborah Boatright gives a presentation from the organization BeSMART. BeSMART is a nonpartisan group advocating safety and common sense education regarding firearms.

  • Listening intently, a crowd of parents, students and teachers watch Superintendent Lewis give a speech in response to multiple reports of weapons being found on campus on Feb. 21, 2019. The meeting was open to the community. Another meeting is planned to take place at Free State High School in March.

  • Superintendent Anthony Lewis addresses the crowd during the Lawrence USD 497 public safety meeting on Feb. 21. The meeting was scheduled in response to multiple incidents of students bringing weapons onto Lawrence High campus.

 

In wake of three incidents of weapons found at school, Superintendent Anthony Lewis hosted a community conversation Thursday night at Lawrence High School to seek solutions and include voices from Lawrence families.  

Lewis’ primary goal was to not only address families directly, but to clarify the importance of keeping students and staff safe above all else. The meeting followed three weapons being brought to LHS in short succession this month: two loaded guns and a taser.

Lewis’ initial remarks referenced the aftermath of the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and the desire to focus on cooperative and preventative actions.

“I wanted to be sure that we convey the message that we have to all come together to ensure we have a safe community,” Lewis said. “Not just a safe district but a safe community, and I want the focus to be on student needs.”

The meeting included a presentation from BeSMART, an organization that advocates firearm safety education. Former speech and language pathologist Deborah Boatright said BeSMART doesn’t encourage a political agenda but rather common sense safety with guns.

“I want to put politics aside,” Boatright said. “I’m not here to talk about laws or policy to curb gun violence, but those are important discussions to have.”

Boatright emphasized the importance of applying the teachings of BeSMART to daily life, especially when uncertainty is involved. She cautioned parents to not just consider their own practices, but to ensure that they talk to other parents about ensuring any guns in the home are secured..

“Everyone in Lawrence is talking about it now and we’re having meetings,” Boatright said. “You can say, ‘I just went to that community meeting about guns. Do you have a gun?”

After the presentation, observers were given the following questions to discuss with others around them.

  • What does our community, including our schools and school district, do well in providing for the safety of Lawrence children and youth?
  • What gaps exist in providing for the safety and security of Lawrence children and youth?
  • What additional supports and resources should be considered to strengthen the safety and security of Lawrence children and youth?
  • What additional information would you like to share?

Most participants acknowledged efforts by the district to combat problems, but some worried these efforts weren’t taking full effect.

“I think the things that the community and the school district are trying to do aren’t setting in,” Lawrence parent Justine Hamilton said. “They’re trying to hold trainings, but I don’t think they’re sinking in with students.”

During this process, Lewis walked around to hear input from individuals and find common issues with current practices. By listening to a range of voices, he hopes to work with other district staff to resolve more specific issues.

“The other exciting part was being able to talk to so many parents, just hearing their concerns,” Lewis said. “We can then look back on the data from the community and say, ‘This is what we heard. Now let’s narrow that down and go a little deeper into this.’”

One message was clear: Parents and teachers say safety risks, such as firearms and social pressures, require more regular and in-depth discussion.

“There’s certain topics that we discuss with ninth graders once,” school psychologist Sylvia Trevino-Maack said. “Now we’re realizing that one time in their high school careers is not enough.”

Lewis hopes the progress from the conversation will inspire other community members to make changes as parents, but insists that his role in caring for students will not change.

“My main message as a superintendent is that I care. I am here,” Lewis said. “ I want the goal for students to be like ‘Yeah I may have an adult here in the building or I may not, but I have a superintendent that cares about each and every one of us.’ ”

The district plans to have another meeting at Free State High School next month, and Lewis will be meeting with some students at LHS next week.

The Budget • Copyright 2019 • FLEX WordPress Theme by SNOLog in