School Safety: What Needs to Change?
As you hear, feel and face the television, computer, social media and other outlets providing various reports from the tragedy in Florida, I fully understand and appreciate your thoughts, concerns and inquiries regarding those events . . . and how this highlights and fore-shadows our own security efforts in Liverpool.
As many of you probably know, we have made modifications to our policy and practices [over the past few years] for visitors entering all of our educational buildings. Each building is in a lock-in condition - once all of the students have arrived. Visitors must present their license and have it scanned through our "Raptor" system, which identifies any issues or concerns related to prior arrests, etc. Additionally, the only area a visitor can enter the building is through the main office. Obviously, the best security is consistent and meaningful practices . . . meaning keeping all of the doors and windows locked and secured (and not allowing anyone to enter through other doors), understanding how to respond in various situations, being vigilant with staff wearing identification badges (and confronting others who are unfamiliar), and having a viable security/safety plan . . . is what will keep our students, staff and visitors safe and secure.
We recently conducted training for all of our staff (November 7th) - outlining our safety and security expectations. We also identified our expectations to expand the training for all staff next November and into the future. I also required all staff members to conduct and participate in a reflection meeting following the training. In addition, each of the school buildings (as a mandate) must conduct 12 practice drills each year . . . 8 being evacuation drills (for both fire and for off-site evacuation in the event of building threats) and 4 Lock-Down situations when the building is in a full security situation. It is absolutely vital that everyone (including staff and students) treat each of these situations with the utmost level of seriousness in an effort to be prepared for the unthinkable.
At various times, folks (staff, parents, and students) have inquired about situations similar to Sandy Hook and now Florida. The most important facet or aspect resulting from the mass shooting event(s) continues to be awareness. Our students and staff members (and families) need to share anything that becomes an awareness or apparent from conversations. I have focused my efforts with our staff on creating and establishing relationships with our kids, their parents, and all of our community partners. We have to be able to rely, trust and share knowledge. Our kids often know more things that are going on between and among each other. Our security team is out in the high school buildings among our students. Our facilities are a safe haven for our students and staff . . . our efforts now focus on how to respond when (potentially) our safe places - the instructional classrooms could become compromised.
We, as an organization, will continue to be diligent and proactive . . . keeping our eyes (and ears) on any necessary trainings, practices, and systems that will allow us to improve with responding to emergencies quicker and more consistently.
I hope this is helpful and reassuring that your children's safety is our number one priority.