Clayton Co. Public Schools highlight violence prevention program after threats

School officials discuss their wellness program, which aims to prevent suicides, school shootings
Clayton County School District
Clayton County School District(CBS46)
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 11:06 PM EDT
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Jonesboro, Ga. (CBS46) - School safety is once again, heavy on the minds of many people in metro Atlanta. Clayton County Public Schools is just one school district that is taking steps to mitigate violence on its campuses.

With threats happening in the Atlanta area recently, including one at Brookwood High School, and another for Lovejoy High School, students and parents have been on high alert.

“I know we had a threat yesterday at Lovejoy yesterday, however from what I was told it came from another school district,” said Charmine Johnson, assistant superintendent, for Cluster D.

That threat turned out to be a hoax, but it still stirred thoughts of threats like these becoming real. The district created a wellness program that is just two years old. Officials said they want to take a proactive approach.

“We want to prevent violence, we want to prevent suicide here in Clayton County, so we are going to band together,” said Cheri-Ann Taylor, director of student behavioral health and well-being.

One way they do this is by using their program “Gaggle.” It monitors student activity on school-issued computers.

“When we have words that come up that indicate harm, suicide, threat, drug use, nudity, we have one of the circles of support members follow up,” said Taylor.

Discipline is still important, but it is the final step in a system that values support and prevention, not reaction.

“Suspension in and of itself does not solve the problem. Our scholars they go home, they are upset, missing classes,” said Maureen Egbuna, director of student discipline prevention and intervention.

The county uses a progressive discipline system, which works from levels 1 through 4.

“One is always supported, at level 2 you may assign ISS or OSS up to five days,” said Egbuna.

Longer suspension and tribunal punishment are last resort. But officials believe in order to prevent things like school shootings it is going to take counseling, monitoring, and intervention before it happens, for this program to truly work.