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The Aegis
Harford County

Harford County Public Schools release safety and security data ahead of virtual town hall

Harford County Public Schools will hold a virtual town hall on safety and security on Wednesday to discuss the school system’s plans for the upcoming school year and to hear from concerned parents and residents.

Harford County Public Schools Parent Academy and the HCPS Office of Safety and Security are partnering with the Harford County Sheriff’s Office for the event, which will be held at Mountain Christian Church from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., on topics including school safety and security, mental health and bullying prevention. Each presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session. Questions can be submitted to ParentAcademy@hcps.org.

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The town hall will be livestreamed on Harford TV. If anyone is unable to join online, the town hall will be recorded and the link to watch will be shared after the event.

A crisis preparedness report was released by HCPS’ Office of Research and Program Evaluation in June with data on internal threats and disciplinary action from 2018 through the past school year.

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HCPS held conversations with stakeholder groups made up of students, parents, staff, law enforcement, business leaders and community members about safety and security in all schools and offices. The stakeholders also completed surveys — there were 923 responses ― and this data was used to develop key findings and recommendations for the report.

In February and March, Stacey Gerringer and Donoven Brooks, the co-chairs of the HCPS safety and security work group, hosted a series of focus groups and stakeholder meetings to gather input for updating and improving HCPS safety and security procedures after the post-pandemic school reopening, according to the report.

HCPS found that nearly one-third of respondents generally feel safe at HCPS schools, but the majority of stakeholders wanted to highlight concerns with safety procedures and behavior, according to the report.

The range of topics stakeholders identified included a lack of policy enforcement (28%), unsafe physical environment (23%), threats of critical incidents (16%) and an overall lack of school preparedness for critical incidents (14%), according to the report.

Also, 37% of respondents identified concerning behaviors that make them feel unsafe, according to the report. Respondents discussed both aggressive parent (8%) and teacher (6%) behaviors, but they overwhelmingly identified student behavior (30%) as the most concerning. Among the most worrisome student behaviors were bullying and fighting, cyberbullying and social media misuse, violent and threatening language, and disregard for teacher authority.

Along with the meetings and surveys, the HCPS office of research and program evaluation worked with the department of safety and security and others to analyze the results, according to the report.

The results showed the number of threats of violence toward students and others, with and without weapons, by grade level. Here’s a breakdown of the data:

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  • Number of threats
    • Elementary School — 347
    • Middle School — 362
    • High School — 269
  • Number of threats with a weapon
    • Elementary School — 38
    • Middle School — 39
    • High School — 18

The results showed the top five most dangerous offenses were fighting, attacks on students, threats to students, attacks on adults and threats to adults. In all, there 1,046 dangerous offenses from September 2021 through March 2022, according to the report.

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Recommendations from stakeholders to lower the number of dangerous offenses include:

1. Increasing the frequency of safety training and critical incident drills at HCPS schools.

2. Working with law enforcement partners to establish a unified command structure.

3. Establishing prevention training for parents, students and staff.


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