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Arkansas school safety summit underway in Springdale

Hundreds are attending the free summit in Springdale to discuss safety protocols, school law, mental health and much more.

SPRINGDALE, Ark. — After weeks of several mass shootings, including one that killed 19 at an elementary school in Texas, the Springdale School District is hosting a regional school safety summit.

The summit is happening from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 7 at the Don Tyson School of Innovation. 

"Our goal for this summit is to learn and grow from the collective experiences of other school staff," said Damon Donnell, Springdale Public Schools Student Services director. "This event will focus on school safety best practices and mental and behavioral health resources that promote safer schools and communities."

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The school district said it planned this summit at the beginning of May, before the Uvalde School shooting. 

"I hope that parents know that safety is on our mind 24 hours a day. It’s one of our pillars in the Springdale School District and that we are focused every day on keeping their children safe, the staff safe and the community safe," Donnell said.

University of Arkansas System Criminal Justice Institute director, Cheryl P. May, will be the keynote speaker at the event. She has 29 years of experience as a forensic professional, having previously served as deputy director, assistant director and program manager at CJI. She is president of the Arkansas Alliance for Drug Endangered Children and serves on the Board of Directors for the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children. 

There were breakout sessions on topics regarding safety protocols, school law, mental health, cybersecurity, anonymous reporting, building safety audits and human trafficking. 

The district says presenters shared how to grow school safety, mental health best practices and resources that promote safer schools and communities through the day of events.

Around 100 school administrators, counselors, social workers, teachers and law enforcement professionals from 26 school districts throughout Arkansas will attend this free event.  

“We are very excited about this opportunity to serve school districts across Arkansas,” Donnell said.

The Fort Smith School District has its own police department with 12 officers assigned to schools around the district. Chief Bill Hollenbeck attended the summit and says the district recently spent more than $15 million on security upgrades.

"For controlled access, law enforcement, security cameras, improved light. So, there has been a considerable amount of effort that has been made by the Fort Smith Public Schools in protecting our students and staff," Hollenbeck said.

Governor Asa Hutchinson was in Northwest Arkansas this week talking with sheriffs from across the state about gun control and school safety.

RELATED: Arkansas governor meets with Arkansas sheriffs discussing school safety

RELATED: 'Protect the 2nd Amendment through gun responsibility': Matthew McConaughey calls for new laws after deadly Uvalde shooting

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