Eric Mackey sends memo to school superintendents outlining new safety program

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As schools across the state begin opening for the fall and in the wake of school shootings across the county one issue on nearly every parents mind is school safety.

On Friday, State Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey sent a memo to city and county Superintendents across the state outlining the suggested implementation of Governor Kay Ivey‘s Alabama Sentry Program.

In May Ivey announced her new plan to provide additional security measure in schools that do not have a School Resource Officer (SRO). The voluntary program will permit administrators in schools, without an SRO, to maintain a firearm on campus in a secured safe in order to be prepared to respond to an active shooter situation. The Sentry Program will require that the administrator successfully complete training created and certified by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). Unlike teachers, school administrators have complete access to their schools and are responsible for the safety of all students at the school, not an individual classroom.

In his memo, Mackey emphasized that the program is completely voluntary on the part of the school administrator, and that no school board may require their participation.

He also outlined eleven steps as the suggested process for school administrators if they choose to take part in the program, including:

  1. The local board of education, in consultation with the superintendent, must decide whether to participate in the Alabama Sentry Program. The decision to participate is considered an amendment to the school safety plan in accordance with Section 16-1-44 (C)(2), Code of Alabama, 1975, which is not subject to certain provisions of the Alabama Open Records Act, Section 36-12-40, Code of Alabama, 1975. The local board of education should consult with its own legal counsel regarding any policy amendments, changes to the safety plan, as well as any open records and/or open meetings requirements.

     

  2. The local board of education, through its superintendent and/or legal counsel, should initiate an agreement with the local sheriff if it wishes to implement the ASP whereby the authorized school administrator is appointed as a reserve deputy sheriff. The local sheriff will vet each approved candidate to ensure all requisite qualifications are met such as mental and physical fitness for duty as detailed below. The ASP is, at its most essential level, an agreement between the local board of education and the local sheriff. Both of these entities should consult their own legal counsel regarding the type, extent, parameters, and term of any proposed agreement.

  3. A sentry candidate must be a school administrator who is properly certified by the local sheriff and works in a participating school system where the local board of education has voted to implement the program. Such a candidate who wishes to become a sentry should send a letter to the superintendent establishing his or her desire to participate. The Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE)issued certificates, which are considered “school administrator’ certificates for the purpose of this program are: Instructional Leader, Educational Administrator Principal and Career and Technical Administrator.

  4. The superintendent may decide whether to forward the letter to the local sheriff for full evaluation and provisional approval.

  5. If the letter is forwarded to the local sheriff, it is the responsibility of the sheriff, subject to the agreement previously made between the sheriff and the board, to determine fitness of the sentry candidate. The sheriff will be responsible for completing each of the following for each sentry candidate at a minimum: Physical fitness for duty evaluation, Psychological fitness for duty assessment, using validated instruments and in-depth personal history evaluations Drug and alcohol screening, Background check and Valid pistol permit verification.

  1. After the local sheriff validates fitness of the candidate, he or she will refer the candidate to ALEA.

     

  2.  ALEA will notify the candidate of training opportunities and requirements. ALEA will copy the local sheriff and the local superintendent on its communications with the candidate.

  3. After ALEA has certified that the candidate has completed the required training to serve as a sentry,ALEA will certify such to the local sheriff.

  4. The local sheriff may then deputize the sentry candidate who may then be authorized as a reserve deputy sheriff as provided by law. See Ala. Code $16-1-44.1 (1975).

  5. The local sheriff will notify the local superintendent of this action.

     

  6. The procurement of any authorized equipment such as a firearm, ballistic vest or biometric safe is the sole responsibility of the local board of education.

Read Mackey’s full memo below:

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