Posts Tagged ‘Chief Safety Officer’

Thoughts on School Safety

I’m sure my thoughts and your thoughts have been on similar topics this week–mourning the tragic deaths of the students in Florida, struggling through the difficult conversations surrounding violence in our society, and then the one that has always kept me up at night–keeping our students safe at school.  This has been always been true for me, not just in light of the most recent tragedy.

In speaking with Lieutenant Jeremy Chavez (Porter County Sheriff’s Department, and PTSC School Resource Officer) this week, he shared some things that I thought were helpful.  I’d like to share them here with you.  Lieutenant Chavez said:

“I am often asked what I think of the “right” answer or what my thoughts are on the school shootings and the means and/or measures that are appropriate to stop them. Unfortunately, I have no “right” answer or cure all to stop these horrific acts. I do however believe we can take steps to greatly reduce our chances of something like this occurring in our building(s).

First off, we must all realize that we are ALL part of the solution. Its not one single person. Its not the SRO in your building or the principal or the superintendent or etc etc. Its all of us. We all must actively participate in the safety process and we must all be the ears and eyes for any signs of trouble or “red flags” that we may come across.

I do not have every social media account or access to every single post that someone may make nor would I have the time to view every single one. But our students for example do and they occasionally may come across things that they could report to a teacher, parent or other adult that could be looked into. Time and time again I read or watch news feeds (most recently the Florida shooting) of students or others that are being interviewed after a tragic incident in which the person interviewed will say they weren’t “surprised” that it was so and so. Or they will say they recall seeing a disturbing social media post prior to the incident occurring. When I see these things it makes me think that there possibly could have been an intervention that possibly occurred. Maybe just….maybe had that Snapchat, Tweet or Facebook post been made known, things may have ended differently. Who knows?? Just a thought.

Statistics show that almost every school shooting that has ever occurred were well thought out plans that had been planned for months and even years. The point is, these shooters more often then not don’t wake up one day and suddenly decide they are going to go shoot up a school. Look at the 3 most prolific shootings to ever have occurred…Klebold  & Harris (Columbine)…Cho (Virginia Tech) and finally Lanza (Sandy Hook) and you may recall when their homes were searched they found maps, pictures and well organized plans for their deadly destruction. All of these things are clues and we must work together to watch for these signs or warning flags. For every school shooting you hear of, there are at least a dozen or so that were thwarted because some brave soul came forward and alerted authorities to a red flag or something they had observed.

I’ll end with this. The bottom line is that we must talk to our students and empower them to take a part in their own safety. Unfortunately, I cannot be in every classroom or every corner of every building at one time. We must all work together. We must act together.

I will steal a line that I’m sure we’ve all heard. “IT TAKES A VILLAGE”.  Think about that and how it applies to this idea I am suggesting.  

The answer is you, me, everyone. It is all of us.”

I know for many parents I have heard that they know PTSC works hard to make school safety a priority.  But they want to know how they can help.  I think Lieutenant Chavez nails it–when he said it is all of us.  If you see something, hear something–say something.  That goes for parents and students.  Tell teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, principals, the school resource officer, guidance counselors, coaches–say something.  I can tell you that there are many situations I know of where are students have done this and it has allowed staff members to make sure that students are OK and families are aware and have resources that they need.  This is the way we can all be involved in keeping our schools safe.

Mr. Parrish (ben.parrish@ptsc.k12.in.us), our Chief Safety Officer, put this together this week that I thought was helpful to share with you as well.

The safety and security of Porter Township students is our top priority.  At Porter Township, we live and breathe school safety every day.  We have an extensive school safety plan that is rooted in current best practices and has been developed in collaboration with school safety specialists, the Porter County Emergency Management Agency, local law enforcement, the countywide School Safety Commission, and our district School Resource Officers.  The school safety plan is continuously evaluated and reviewed to afford our students the highest level of safety.  We can’t share specific details regarding our response plan, as that would compromise the plan and put students and staff at a disadvantage, but we do want to share the following points regarding our plan:

  • In June of 2014 we conducted a complete overhaul of our response plan and safety protocol.
  • We have 12 Indiana Certified School Safety Specialists on staff, and will be sending additional personnel to receive this training in the Fall of 2018.
  • In February of 2017, we expanded our School Resource Officer program to include three Porter County Sheriff’s Department officers allowing us to have an officer in the school district each day of the week.
  • PTSC utilizes a multifaceted approach to school safety, including providing assistance and support to students for mental health and family issues.
  • We stress to students and staff if they “See Something, Hear Something, Say Something.”
  • Our staff conducts thorough investigations, that include our School Resource Officers, and take appropriate actions when provided information regarding potential threats.
  • The district provides extensive training to all staff (teachers, custodians, bus drivers, administrators, cafeteria staff, office staff) on how to respond to an active assailant and how to best keep your kids safe.
  • Staff and students conduct training drills in all school buildings multiple times a year.
  • We have specific protocol, and provide continuous training for our office staff regarding allowing individuals entry to our schools.
  • All district personnel utilize the School Guard App. Learn more at http://schoolguard.guard911.com/

Most importantly, school safety is everyone’s responsibility.  It takes a multifaceted approach and the dedication of all staff, students, parents, and community members to make our schools as safe as possible.  I can assure you that the safety of our students is our top priority and we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that we are doing everything we can as a school district to combat potential acts of school violence.”

We continue to read, learn, collaborate with others and revise our plan as needed.  Please continue to be part of our team and if you see something or hear something, say something!

 

Important Dates:

  • Approved 2018-2019 Calendar
  • March 13:  End of Third Quarter
  • March 14:  BGMS and BGHS Online Day
  • March 26-30:  Spring Break, No School
  • April 2:  Snow Day Make-Up Day (Currently we will not have school this day–fingers crossed!)
  • April 18:  BGMS and BGHS Online Day
  • May 24:  End of Quarter 4 and Second Semester
  • May 24:  Last Day for students
  • May 25:  Potential Snow Day make-up day
  • May 28:  Memorial Day
  • June 1:  BGHS Graduation

Things to Know/Do:

  • Now hiring substitute teachers! Please contact Linda Dusek at the administration building if you are interested in substitute teaching and she will help you start the application process and discuss qualifications.
  • Do your friends and neighbors know how to find our weekly updates? Even if your neighbors don’t have kids in school tell them about our weekly updates so they can hear the great news of what happens at PTSC!
  • Every Wednesday is a 30-minute delayed start. If we have a 2-hour delay, students will arrive at school 2 hours after the regular start time for the building.
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