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UCPS kicks off the school year talking virtually with hundreds of parents about safety

Hundreds of concerned parents logged on to Facebook to hear from school officials and law enforcement.

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — School districts are trying to reassure children, and their worried parents, students will be safe as they head back to the classroom. 

Before classes start in two weeks at Union County Public Schools, the district used an online meeting with school officials and law enforcement to calm any fears. 

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Hundreds of concerned parents logged on to Facebook to hear from the officials.

"Parents and students as partners in our effort to ensure that safety and security remain the number one priority," UCPS Superintendent Andrew Houlihan said. "If you see something, say something."

Early on, and through most of the meeting, UCPS was facing audio issues with low volume. 

Despite this, parents stayed around and asked tough questions. The panel discussed topics like body scanners, door lock mechanisms, mental health, and school resource officers.

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The district announced they will now have one SRO for every two elementary schools instead of every three elementary schools. 

"We will continue advocating for this and making sure that we get to a point in time where there is one dedicated SRO for every single elementary school," Houlihan said. 

Funding and employment for SROs are allocated by the Union County Sheriff's Office which gets funding from the Union County Board of Commissioners.

One parent asked about body scanners being put in more schools in Union County and another asked about armed veterans helping keep schools safe. 

The deputy in the room said state law won’t allow that because only sworn officers can carry guns on school campuses in North Carolina. 

Houlihan assured parents that students are being watched over.

"Know that there are those adults in every single building that are looking out for our children every single day," Houlihan said. 

UCPS joins other school districts like Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Alexander County Schools in having safety conversations before school starts. 

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