School first day group of kids.jpg

Young Prince William County students walk in to Bennett Elementary School in Manassas on the first day of the 2022-23 school year.

Prince William County Schools will be adding new full-time school security assistants for every elementary school this year, intended to help monitor entrances to school buildings and deal with any security issues on the property.

Superintendent LaTanya McDade announced the new hires at the Sept. 7 School Board meeting, saying the new assistants were tied to the school system’s recently completed security audit. The school system is not releasing the audit’s findings, but McDade said it’s in the process of implementing the report’s recommendations.

“We … recognize that school safety is top of mind for our students and their families as well as our staff members,” McDade said at the meeting. “The audit has been completed, and we are currently reviewing and implementing the suggestions for safe and secure school buildings.”

The roughly 60 new assistants will be unarmed, according to School Board Chair Babur Lateef. Security assistants were already budgeted for the county’s middle and high schools to work alongside the school resource officers from the Prince William County Police Department. McDade said 25 assistants have already been hired for middle and high schools, with seven more on the way. What’s new is that the system is now hiring for elementary school assistants, something that hadn’t been budgeted for previously. 

A job posting provided by the school system said the assistants will patrol school property “to assure that building and grounds are safe and secure,” help school administrators maintain “security at athletic and other events,” patrol school hallways, detain any trespassers, help assist administrators monitor CCTV and visitor management systems and more. The applications are open to anyone with a high school diploma/GED or more, with general security experience or one year of security experience “with an equivalent combination of education, experience and training in criminal justice, youth counseling, [and] mentoring of at-risk youth/young adults.”

Gainesville School Board Member Jennifer Wall told InsideNoVa in a statement that she’s been requesting additional security at elementary schools since taking her seat in 2020. 

“After much effort, the school division is moving to put into place additional security measures to build upon the multiple layers we have in place,” she said. 

The school system already had rotating security professionals that moved between elementary schools to monitor things and continues to use former police officers and veterans to help with security at some elementary schools, but the new assistants will work full-time in every building. 

“We constantly review our security posture and are committed to reassuring the public that we will continue to prioritize safety and security,” Lateef told InsideNoVa. “One of the most common concerns I continue to hear since my time on the board from parents, staff and students is their anxiety about security and safety. The School Board and Dr. McDade are highly focused on their concern.”

 

Jared Foretek covers the Manassas area and regional news across Northern Virginia. Reach him at jforetek@insidenova.com

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Jared Foretek covers Prince William County Public Schools, the city of Manassas and transportation news across Northern Virginia. Reach him at jforetek@insidenova.com

(5) comments

CarWash Bonzai

How are they expecting them to detain trespassers as unarmed guards? I'm sure it would be expensive to have moderately to highly trained security for all schools but better safe than sorry. Too much sociopaths on the rise and not enough protection for our babies. However, this is a first step in the right direction. The law enforcement shortages nationwide has prompted a need for QUALITY School Resource Officers. We can't allow such vulnerability to harm our children.

Paul Benedict

Good guys without guns are pretty meaningless. We already have schools full of good guys without guns. These security assistants are supposedly going to detain trespassers? Yeah right. I guess they can be the dedicated person to call 911 when a crazy person shows up. Police will probably be there in 5 to 10 minutes. Who knows what will happen in the mean time. This accomplishes nothing except provide a few more jobs.

Fix Prince William

Telling you. Arm the students.

Cornelius Papadoupolos

If they are unarmed they are just glorified hall monitors. Supply armed security to prevent a Uvalde. Otherwise...you are just throwing away money to virtue signal.

John Dutko Re-Incarnated

Seconded..complete waste of time and money if they have no weapons and training to fight back with.

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