Huntsville City Schools hired a former agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigations to oversee security last year. However, the program that this former agent, Chris McRae, created has caused an uproar in critics who claim it focused mainly on black students within the school district, according to Raw Story.
WAFF reports that the school district has contracted with T&W Operations which is a consulting firm that employees Chris McRae to the sum of $157,000 to run what is called the SAFe Program (Students Against Fear). If you do the math, that equates to over $100 per hour.
The SAFe program received information from students and teachers who are encouraged to provide “anonymous tips to security personnel” of things they’ve seen to be a possible threat. The security personnel, such as Chris McRae, then searches those individual’s social media sites such as Facebook to determine if there is a viable threat, per Raw Story.
The kinds of things security looks for are items such as images of guns or gang signs.
Out of 24,000 Huntsville City School students, the social media accounts of 600 students were under investigation since January.
As a result of those investigations, Alabama reports that 14 students were expelled, and 12 of those 14 students were black.
As revealed by the Alabama, Within the entire school system itself, “On Oct. 30, Huntsville City Schools provided records showing the system expelled 305 students last year. Of those, 238 were black.”
This means that within a school system where 40 percent of the students are black, 78 percent of all the students expelled are black, as per the Raw Story.
Madison County Commissioner Bob Harris is concerned about those numbers, suggesting that the system is targeting social media activities of black children, as he reveals to the Raw Story.
“(The policy) is effectively targeting or profiling black children in terms of behavior and behavioral issues.”
However, city board member Laurie McCaulley (who is the only African-American member) reports to the Alabama that the expulsions were “caused by serious offenses, involving weapons, drugs or sex.”
“These numbers tell me that I have kids with some major issues. What I think the board is doing is trying to provide a safe environment for all children.”
Superintendent Casey Wardynski told the Alabama that this is an effort to thwart off any “real-time” threats in the schools.
“Our SAFe program is really about bringing information together. Often we’ll find on Facebook things going on right now, kids are posting from inside school or on Twitter. Here’s a kid with a pistol on Facebook. These are his buddies, each with a gun. We’re instantly interested in that.”
Wardynski gave an example to the Alabama, stating that a female student posted a picture of herself on Facebook during school hours holding a gun. Officials determined that she was in fact on the school campus at that time.
“She was posting that from in school. Our assumption has to be, we have a real-time problem.”
The student was confronted, she said the gun was a toy, which is also against school policy and she was expelled.
School shootings are serious, and the safety of children is and should be a main concern of the school system. This has been what Wardynski calls “a wake-up call, as he explains to the Alabama.
“We need to work in real time and not in school time. That’s where this whole thing came from. That’s why we say it was our wake-up call. Work in real time, be aware and be able to check in real time the internet. A cop walking around the school can’t do that. A campus security officer walking around the school can’t do that.”
He goes on to explain that SAFe handles “high priority cases” using a variety of information to investigate, as per the Alabama.
“Our SAFe program is really about bringing information together. One source of information is the Internet. Usually the way it begins is a tip from a parent, a policeman, a student, an administrator or a teacher. It’s a human connection.”
[Photo Credit: MoreTricks.com]