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Ask police chief: Alternative school is safe

Posted: December 16, 2012 - 1:12am

Recently we applauded school officials for planning to move Columbia County’s alternative school to the soon-to-be vacated Evans Elementary School site.

The move still seems to be on track, though board members last week delayed a final decision pending a forum to address fears from some of the school’s new neighbors.

One person they should invite: Gary Owens, chief of the Grovetown Department of Public Safety. He was there when the alternative school moved to Grovetown several years ago.

“We had the exact same feeling when it came here,” Owens says – including worries about an invasion of problem children.

“Those feelings were quickly dismissed,” he says. “The problem level we have from them is no different from any other school.”

The alternative school is far more secure than other schools, he says, with students entering the heavily monitored campus through metal detectors.

As for them causing problems for surrounding neighborhoods? “Oh, God no,” Owens says. In fact, a student trying to leave the campus results in an immediate call for police response – whereas one could slip off any other campus “and be at home in his pajamas playing Xbox before they know they’re missing,” he says.

Remember, neighbors: These kids are in the school because they’ve violated disciplinary rules – not because they’re criminals. Welcome the school, and its eventual expansion to include academically troubled students tracking toward a more productive life. The neighborhood, and the entire community, will benefit – as will those students.

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