Roanoke City schools host safety summit to discuss gun violence, metal detectors and strengthening relationships

The safety summit comes after two acts of gun violence last month shocked the school district

Gun violence from the city of Roanoke has entered the classroom.

ROANOKE, Va. – Gun violence from the city of Roanoke has entered the classroom.

Last month, a Roanoke city school bus was struck by a stray bullet.

Then just a week later, a gun was fired by a student inside Lucy Addison Middle School.

“It’s important to acknowledge that schools are a microcosm of the community that they are situated in,” said Dr. Gerald Lawson who is a education professor for crisis response.

Wednesday night, national, regional and city leaders took part in a virtual safety summit to discuss what changes can be made to ensure a safe learning environment.

“We will be sending home with all students a family safety pledge. We encourage you to read over this pledge with your students so we can recommit to making our homes and schools safe-havens,” said Superintendent Verletta White.

Some officials want to see metal detectors inside schools.

Others are concerned about the consequences the machines would bring.

“There is some research emerging that says the presence of metal detectors could actually present a less safe environment and increase the anxiety of the kids,” explained national school safety expert, Ken Trump.

Along with a long discussion about metal detectors, another theme was a focus to strengthen relationships between students and adults.

“It’s all a balancing act for the physical safety interventions that we have in place. I could go on and on about what this school district has done but it is the relationships and the human factor that is the biggest factor,” said Roanoke City Schools chief operating officer, Chris Perkins.

In addition to a family safety pledge, some immediate actions being taken will be the district sending home information on gun safety locks and hosing a job fair for students to be better involved in the community.

About the Author:

Sydney joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2021.