Board targets security at schools First coordinator, a state police veteran, will be named Oct. 14

October 07, 1998|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

The Carroll County school board, following the lead of other Maryland districts fostering student safety, will hire its first security coordinator -- a 28-year veteran of the Maryland State Police -- next week.

Capt. Lawrence E. Faries, 51, a 26-year county resident, will be named to the newly created post of coordinator of school security at a board meeting Oct. 14, The Sun has learned from sources familiar with the hiring.

"This position is a preventive decision," said Edwin Davis, Carroll's director of pupil services/special programs, declining to comment specifically on who will be hired. "Some school systems have [security officers] stationed inside their schools. We have no sense of the need for that here."

But Davis said schools must be a place for learning, where students are not afraid. No shooting incidents have occurred in Carroll schools, but a student was arrested on a weapons charge last spring.

Faries declined to comment yesterday and referred questions to Davis. Davis said only that the security position "has been offered to someone on a per-diem contractual basis" and a "verbal agreement has been reached."

The school board will announce the coordinator at a news conference, also Oct. 14, Davis said.

The security coordinator is expected to help plan and implement behavioral programs, train staff, and serve as a liaison between the school system and state and local police, Davis said.

In addition to being an added resource for school officials, the coordinator would devote initial efforts to assess policies to make certain county schools are safe, Davis said.

"Beyond that assessment, the security coordinator would help in maintaining that safe and secure environment," Davis said.

Faries was assistant commander of the state police barracks in Westminster from 1986 to 1992 and commander in 1996 and 1997.

He is executive officer for the state police central region, overseeing operations in Howard, Montgomery, Prince George's and Carroll counties.

In that post, Faries has watched school boards in those counties -- and also Harford -- beef up security in response to increasing safety problems.

School security chiefs -- some with forces large enough to place two officers in each school -- have been helping educators deal with the more serious infractions of their students.

In an additional effort to ensure student safety, Carroll officials drafted regulations to help principals handle serious threats of violence from students.

The proposed guidelines were developed by school psychologists, counselors and supervisors. The proposal was presented at the September meeting of the school board and could be approved at the next board meeting.

If approved, the plan would be presented to parents and students before taking effect this school year. Under the proposal, for example, a student older than age 7 who makes a serious violent threat for the first time could be suspended for up to three days. A parent conference would be required for readmission.

Carroll's effort is partly in response to fatal shootings at schools across the nation.

In an incident that alarmed parents and school officials, an unarmed 14-year-old Sykesville boy was arrested in May on his way to Liberty High School. He was charged as a juvenile and later admitted pointing a loaded weapon at another youth.

When police searched the home of the teen-ager, who was not named because of his age, they reported finding a loaded shotgun, more than 200 rounds of ammunition and a jar filled with gunpowder.

Pub Date: 10/07/98

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