Parents in Spokane ranked behavior, mental health, and single-point entries as the most important safety focuses in a survey conducted by Spokane Public Schools in November 2018.

The survey had over 2,500 participants — about half of which were parents — and asked people to share their thoughts about school safety in Spokane.

Behavioral issues represented the most talked about topic during the survey, and those who responded said schools need to listen and provide more help to those expressing mental health concerns. The other most common response that dealt with behavior stated that when a student is suspended from school for acting a dangerous way, the student needs to complete a process before they can go back to school.

Mental health represented the second most common answer, with many saying schools should make it a priority in an effort to prevent potentially dangerous situations and that all schools in the district need to have mental health professionals on staff.

Single-point entries, which has been an emphasis for school safety nationwide in recent years, also ranked high on the list of topics discussed by those in the survey. Many said they are happy with SPS for having single entry points in updated schools, and the district said these schools are simply following procedure.

In a smaller sample size of about 750 people, three different groups had split opinions on the idea of arming teachers. Group one had about half saying they felt it was safe and the other half saying the opposite. This group also split almost evenly on the idea of adding or increasing the number of armed security guards.

Other polarizing ideas among the three groups were clear or mesh backpacks, mental health resources and metal detectors at entrances. A different group did give a high rank to the importance of mental health resources.

The groups did agree on wanting to provide additional support for those who show “out-of-control behaviors” in school and the need to give a sense of safety to students and staff.

The responses will be used in a discussion with students, staff and faculty based on improving local schools.

Brian Coddington, communications director for SPS, said these types of surveys go out multiple times a year.

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