Fayette school officials are exploring a social media ‘listening technology’ as a way to watch for warning signs about potential school violence. That was just one aspect of a presentation offered this week to members of a Lexington city council committee.
Fayette Schools District Spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall says social media interactions can, quote, “go wild,” “Within the span of one week, we dealt with unsubstantiated social media threats in seven different schools. In one school we had more than 50% of the students check out in just an hour and a half because of something that was completely unsubstantiated. Someone said they thought they saw something on Snap Chat,” said Deffendall.
Deffendall says the technology involves reviewing publicly available social media posts. Vice Mayor Steve Kay said he hopes increased attention is given to diverting as many funds as possible to increasing mental health support for students.
School officials are pursuing new ways to secure doors in Lexington school buildings. Chief Operating Officer Myron Thompson says, for decades, life safety strategies centered on quickly getting students out of a building in case of a fire. “Over the last 20 or so years with all the security issues that we’ve been facing, there are some design conflicts because those things run counter intuitive. We’re looking at keeping people out of the building that aren’t supposed to get in versus getting people into the building that need to get out in the event of an emergency,” noted Thompson.
Lexington school officials are proposing a $13 million ten point safety investment plan which calls for, among other things, hiring more mental health workers, safety officers, and installing metal detectors in schools.