Fulton County Schools Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney discusses safety and staffing measures

Dr. Mike Looney has been a district superintendent since 2005. He came to Fulton County from the Williamson County Schools in Tennessee.

Martha Dalton / WABE

In the wake of nationwide mass shootings and teacher shortages, several Georgia school districts have enacted precautionary policies for the new school year. On the Wednesday edition of “Closer Look,” Fulton County Schools Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney discusses the district’s employment contingency plan and security measures.

Looney says he attributes the staffing shortage, in part, to the lack of support he has noticed through ongoing political polarization. As circumstances for educators continue to evolve, flexibility and adaptability have become increasingly paramount for Fulton educators and staff.

Meanwhile, Looney says the district strives to cultivate a safe and welcoming school environment for students. He added that the district partners with nonprofit entities and social services to provide wraparound safety services for students.

“Our schools are simply a reflection of the communities that we operate in. It’s unreasonable to expect that guns won’t make their way [into] schools if guns are present within the broader community and easily accessible,” Looney said.

The district has allotted funding and resources to the prevention of potential violent acts, student conflict resolution training, and surveillance equipment. Fulton County Schools has also enlisted armed police officers, campus security associates, and a police patrol across district schools.

“It’s a heavy burden to carry for all educators. Every day that goes by where there is not an incident, I am thankful and prayerful,” Looney said. “We’re living in unique times and I personally am invigorated by our teams’ willingness to lean in on this issue, to stay focused and to do everything that we reasonably can to protect our students and staff.”