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Following Massachusetts Teacher's Murder, Local Educators Talk School Safety

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While Tulsa educators generally feel safe in area schools, the murder of a Massachusetts teacher, allegedly at the hands of a student, has many concerned.

"You know, you just say that prayer and you realize that could be me. That could be any of us. That could be Tulsa, Oklahoma," said Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association President Lynn Stockley.

TCTA represents about 1,900 educators in the area. Stockley said the general consensus is that Tulsa Public Schools are a safe place to work. However, she said it is impossible to check every student every day for possible weapons.

"When you realize the number of backpacks that kids are bringing into school, there really is no way that you could ever stop every harmful box cutter or whatever it might be," Stockley said. The student accused of stabbing Massachusetts teacher Colleen Ritzer allegedly used a box cutter. He reportedly attacked her in a school bathroom.

Stockley said Tulsa Public Schools has more cameras and security guards than ever before. She said some schools have rules when it comes to backpacks, such as mandating that students leave them in their lockers. She said many schools perform periodic security checkpoints.

Campus Police did not interview with Channel 8 Thursday but said off camera that it is not possible to check every student for weapons each day. An officer said he feels the district's schools are safe for teachers and students.

Stockley said violence in schools could possibly be reduced with more access to mental health treatment for students that need it, along with smaller class sizes for teachers. She said both of these moves require more funding.

Stockley also said some of the responsibility to reduce violence in schools begins at home. She encourages parents to pay attention to any weapons their children might have access to. She said parents must also pay attention to any possible mental health issues.
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