LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – Representatives from schools all over the world gathered at the Palms Casino and Resort in Las Vegas Wednesday for the 12th National Student Safety and Security Conference.

The conference discussed how to make students and staff feel safe in schools, with an emphasis on employee training and prioritizing students’ mental health before a tragedy happens.

“It’s not about some kids, it’s about all of our kids. And is not us, then who? And if not now, then when?” said conference speaker Kirk Carpenter, who was the superintendent for Aztec High School in New Mexico when a shooting there claimed the lives of two students in 2017.

“This is a life-changing issue. Fortunately, we had a lot of things in place that saved lives,” said Carpenter. “We had 10 years of training for nine-minute incident, and a lot of that training was working with local emergency management, working with other agencies, doing drills, table talks, live drills, that’s one thing. Radios, we had radios in every hand. Radios save lives.”

Carpenter said these are all takeaways from his first-hand experience that he shares with other school staff at conferences like this.

Although there’s no universal approach to safety in schools, conference attendees agree they can all learn from each other.

“What works well for one might not work well for another, but the concepts and the ideas that we can bring in and share with each other,” said John Calvert, Director of School Safety for the Kansas State Department of Education. “Maybe it’s a school here in Nevada that’s doing things just a little differently that I can then take back to my hometown, I can take back to my schools and go, ‘Hey, Nevada’s doing something like this. What are your thoughts on how we can tweak that and make it work for Kansas?’”

While safety on school grounds is vital, some say the issue extends to school buses and beyond campuses, especially in Clark County, where a student was recently beaten to death near Rancho High School.

“A lot of times, we are preparing ourselves for safety in the school, and as we have found out recently, the violence just moves a couple blocks over, so we have to have a more community approach to a lot of communities out here if we’re going to keep our schools safe,” said conference keynote speaker Dr. Stephen Sroka.

The 2024 National Student Safety and Security Conference has five stops schedule, ending in Las Vegas again next November.


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