The Gist

- Fulton County Schools Superintendent Mike Looney is asking parents to check students’ backpacks and social media accounts.
- Ten additional campus security officers will be added at schools experiencing group fights.
- An assistant district attorney is being assigned to collaborate with the school district and public safety groups.

Fulton County Schools Superintendent Mike Looney said more pocket knives, box cutters and guns are being brought to school this year and he needs parents to help.

He offered a direct message during the Board of Education’s work session on Feb. 8 to parents and caregivers, asking them to monitor what their children are doing on their devices, what they are saying and posting on social media. And also, what students are carrying to school.

FCS Superintendent Mike Looney

“I need for you to know what’s in their book bag every morning before they leave. Please, please engage your children so that we avoid an inadvertent slip or someone bringing a pocket knife to school and being in serious trouble,” Looney said.

As a father of four, he said he knew how taxing that is, but he needs parents’ engagement to keep everyone safe.

Looney said he’s using his emergency purchasing power to add 10 additional campus security associates for schools that have had three group fights or more. Security associates are not sworn officers.

Since they can’t get new hires trained quick enough, they will be contracting for these services. The spending will be brought before the board in its March meeting.

The school district is holding community engagement meetings on school discipline. It also has engaged with other agencies and officials on the problem.

Looney met with Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis, who assigned an assistant district attorney to partner with the district. They will work to collaborate across departments, with a juvenile court, with local law enforcement divisions and others, Looney said.

“We know in order to turn the tide that we’re all experiencing – not just in Fulton County schools but across the country – we need to work together and collaborate and communicate,” he said.

Correction: The school district will hire campus security associates, who are not sworn officers.

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.