The newly appointed superintendent for Loudoun County Public Schools says assessing school safety protocols will be one of his first duties when he begins leading later this summer.
Every Loudoun County middle and high school has school resource officers. The same is true in Virginia Beach, where Aaron Spence has been superintendent since 2014.
Spence said SROs should continue to play a key role in LCPS.
“I believe that we need to have a strong partnership with well-trained law enforcement in our buildings,” he said. “Law enforcement that understands the difference between policing out in the community and on the street and policing in our schools.”
School bathrooms pose an increasing challenge to school administrators with vaping, fighting and sex assaults often occurring there. LCPS soon will begin a pilot program to install private, gender neutral bathroom stalls in several schools.
Spence said he’ll need to learn more about the plan when he digs into his new job but says both the Ralph Northam and Glenn Youngkin administrations’ model policies call for some private restrooms.
“Both of those recommend that schools develop single-use bathrooms available for anyone who wants to use them, so I think the school board was responding to that and I think that’s entirely appropriate,” Spence said. “I would just want to look at how that’s being implemented.”
Spence said a strong school monitoring plan is critical.
“Looking at how are we visible and how are we observing and monitoring both in terms of using our restrooms and using our hallways and why are they in our hallways and who’s out there in terms of security personnel to monitor that,” he said. “That’s a conversation I’m going to need to have when I get there.”
He stressed another key to school safety is engaging the community to find solutions together.
“I believe in shared responsibility,” Spence said. “I hear loud and clear that our parents, our business leaders, our community want to be engaged with our schools. They want to have a say in what happens, and I think that’s really critically important.”