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School safety conference held in Las Vegas amid recent school shootings

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Dozens of educators, school resource officers, and state government officials from around the United States were in attendance in Las Vegas for a school security conference.

The National School Response Conference on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (KLAS)

The National School Response Conference is a two-day event that began Tuesday inside the Flamingo Hotel.

One of those in attendance was Robert Schmidt who leads security at the Mater Academy of Nevada, a public charter school in the east valley.

Schmidt told 8 News Now the main focus is to provide a safe learning environment, and doing that, starts at home.

The National School Response Conference at the Flamingo Hotel and resort (KLAS)

“We pride ourselves on staying on top of the security, especially at the Mater Academies. We take it very, very seriously,” he said. “With the way the buildings are built, with the way we have the fencing.”

With 28 years of experience at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department under his belt, Schmidt is based at the Mater Academy High School located near Pecos and Bonanza roads.

Schmidt added that student mental health is a priority at the school.

“We try to do the best we can to make sure the home life is okay because if the home life is affecting, it affects the school life,” Schmidt said.

Gary L Sigrist, Jr. was one of the organizers of the National School Response Conference.

Sigrist has worked in both law enforcement and in the classroom in Ohio and says kids are often now prone to resort to extreme violence to express their anger.

“What we have today are a lot of people, children, and adults, who are very brittle, and they’re always blaming someone for something bad that’s happened to them,” Sigrist said.

Sigrist, who was also a speaker at the conference, said it’s less likely for a student to attack an educator when there’s a personal connection, which is what organizers are pushing as a tool to reduce violence.

Nevada officials with the division of emergency management and homeland security were also in attendance.

“The division of emergency management is actually required by law to accept and review all school emergency operations plans, so being here to get that information and resources, helps support that mission,” Megan Hall, the planning supervisor for the Nevada Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security said.

The conference will also include a discussion on arming school staff with concealed weapons and on threat assessments.

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