School security under microscope after 10-year-old runs away

Posted by on May 10, 2012

Parents and the media are questioning a Georgia elementary school’s security and supervision procedures after a 10-year-old fifth-grade student ran away from his elementary school on Tuesday.

The student, Kit Colburn, was sent to the office around 8:45 a.m. but not reported missing to police until 12:19 p.m., according to a story by The Telegraph newspaper based in Macon, Georgia.

As I stressed in my interview with The Telegraph reporter, Caryn Grant:

The key to good school safety is supervision, supervision, supervision!


I have had the pleasure of working with a number of school officials, both public and private, in Georgia over the years. One school district brought in our team several years ago to review emergency preparedness planning after another consultant firm submitted a rather shoddy evaluation report on the district’s efforts. We learned very quickly that this school district, like others, had many positive things in place, as I am sure is the case with the school district where Kit Colburn ran away on Tuesday.

But the good history of safety in districts quickly falls to the wayside when an incident like Kit’s occurs at a school. This is especially the case when a security gap comes into the bulls-eye of parent and media scrutiny. All of the good work school officials do each day on school safety at least temporarily becomes irrelevant as tough questions are asked of school officials when a child in their care disappears and significant lag time in reporting it occurs.

The key to school safety is, indeed, supervision. Contrary to what many educators may believe, effective supervision skills are not something that automatically comes with a person just because he or she has a teaching degree. Training can and should be provided so teachers and support staff can learn simple and practical, but important, skills for effectively supervising children in their care.

Do your school leaders provide training on supervision best practices?

Ken Trump

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