School safety: Baltimore City schools CEO shares changes aimed at protecting students

Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Dr. Santelises discusses preparation for new school year

BALTIMORE -- School security remains a concern, not just in Baltimore, but everywhere in the state.

In fact, schools in Prince George's County are implementing a clear-backpacks policy this year.

"The world is a scary place now and nobody seems to care about human life," parent Lisa Bennett said. "They bring these guns, they shoot, and it's very, very frightening out here."

Baltimore City Public Schools shared some of the changes they are making to keep students safe.

Last school year, Baltimore City schools saw their fair share of gun-related incidents.

A number of students were caught with guns in their backpacks.

In some cases, the guns were loaded and some students got arrested.

In Baltimore County, a Lansdowne High School student stabbed another student in the middle of the school day.

"We are working on a multi-pronged approach," Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelisis said.

Going into the new school year, Santelisis says the district is investing in high-level weapons detection systems.

The school district plans to outfit all the schools with exterior locking features.

The idea is then to put that on all the classrooms as well.

But they're also investing more in their staffing to bolster safety.

The district increased the salaries of school resource officers, as well as hiring more staff specifically to support schools' anti-bullying efforts.

"We heard from parents continually, yes, it's the violence outside, but it's the bullying inside of schools as well," Santelisis said. "So we have increased support with that."

Santelisis said continued investments in social-emotional learning also are part of this, saying it helps mitigate those situations that can escalate into violence.

"It is about how are we teaching young people, and some cases re-teaching, post-pandemic, what it means to just interact in a civil society and interact in a caring community," Santelisis said.

Bennett told WJZ that hearing the district's plan is a little comforting.

"Absolutely, if I know he's safe, I won't worry," Bennett said.

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