KNOX COUNTY, Tennessee — Knox County Schools is working to make schools safer for students — physically and mentally.
KCS has added 11 new school resource officers, bringing their total to 112 officers, enough for all schools. They say the officers are also all getting a 12% raise.
The district is also working with local law enforcement agencies and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to conduct active shooter training and they plan to reinstate random weapon searches.
“Random weapon searches give us the opportunity to catch potential threats before they happen, but also allow schools to remain secure,” said Jon Rysewyk, the KCS superintendent.
KCS also is working to invest in mental health by placing 40 school psychologists, 40 social workers and 12 therapists on staff. They said they also rely on teachers to flag any troubling behavior in students.
“All of our teachers have had some level of training of trauma-informed practices,” said Janice Cook, Director of the Department of Culture for KCS. “They’re looking to see, ‘Is there something else that we need to be doing? Is there something going on with this kid that we need to take care of?'”
They also work with the McNabb Center to provide more mental health coverage, something they said they’ve struggled with since the pandemic.
“Since COVID, there seems to be an overabundance of need, and not the practitioners to actually take care of it,” Cook said. “We have the McNabb contract, and we look to have them fulfill that, but it’s hard for them to find the counselors and the therapists to come in and work with us.”