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Parents volunteer to help with school safety in Clayton County

Clayton County education leaders are pushing for 5 to 6 parent volunteers at each of the counties 66 schools.

CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — Some parents in Clayton County are stepping up and answering the school district's call for more help with security through their volunteer program - Village on Patrol. 

Dozens of parents showed up to an interest meeting on Tuesday at Jonesboro High School to learn more about the volunteer program. The district's goal is to "further ensure school safety" by training volunteers to be another set of eyes and ears in schools. 

"It can't be just the cops because the cops are not always going to be in every little corner," Amena Elzoghby said, a parent who signed up to volunteer. "You know, it takes a lot of a lot of help for us to provide the protection we can."

RELATED: Clear bookbag mandate for Clayton County Schools starts August 3 | What parents need to know

The district said this is not a short-term plan to fill SRO spots, but a movement to a permanent solution. They want five to six volunteers at each of its 66 schools. 

"Our superintendent hosted three community forums, and during those forums, we heard from our community loud and clear. They wanted to be part of the solution," Shakira Brown Rice said, who is the Director of Community and Employee Engagement at Clayton County Schools.  

How to be a part of Village on Patrol

These are the qualifications for volunteering for Village on Patrol: 

  • Must be at least 21 years old 
  • Must complete their CCPS Volunteer Application 
  • Must complete and pass a level 3 criminal background check 

Once all qualifications are satisfied, Clayton County Schools said volunteers would undergo the same safety training that guards with the Department of Safety and Security go through. 

"We will discuss lockdown procedures and a couple of things that can't necessarily be discussed in the open public eye," Chief Reynard Walker said, who is with Clayton County Schools Police Department. "We are going to give them a little insight on what our expectation is and moving forward for them to operate accordingly on school grounds.  

The first interest meeting was Tuesday, but that wasn't the last chance. Anyone who cares about the community can sign up to help. To get more information about the program, contact Brown-Rice at shakira.rice@clayton.k12.ga.us. 

"I hope that more people will volunteer to make sure that we can continue to help out the staff and the police officers," Tarnita Phifer said, a parent who signed up to volunteer. 

Duties of Village on Patrol volunteers

Once volunteers finish their training, they will be given a program T-Shirt to wear on school grounds and can begin assisting building leaders. VOP volunteers will also have a special badge with a call button they can press if they need help.

"We pretty much see them as security guards, unarmed security, just assisting us on our day-to-day basis on keeping the students safe," Walker said.

Volunteering in this role could look different every day, according to leaders, from monitoring elementary school students on the playground to corralling students back to class from lunch. 

RELATED: Clayton County School District outlines plans for the upcoming academic year

"You may see them (volunteers) opening up doors so that the young scholars can get out and in the morning or arrival to school, they may assist with dismissals to school," Brown-Rice said.

During an emergency, the school said VOP volunteers would play the role of an administrator or campus security by gathering students and sheltering them in place. 

"Only an officer would be going through the threat," Walker said. 

The school said in addition to adding to school safety, getting a cool shirt and participating in good-hearted community service, volunteers also get a free athletic pass. 

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