PREBLE COUNTY — In the wake of the Florida school shootings earlier this month, national attention continues to be not only on gun control measures, but also school safety.
School safety continues to be a high priority — along with educating students, according to Eaton Community Schools Superintendent Barb Curry.
“As part of that process, we act immediately on any information we receive that raises any questions of safety. Every time there is a school shooting, we analyze and learn from the situation. Based on these lessons, we continually review and make necessary adjustments, if needed, to our emergency operation plans. We will continue to be proactive and work with the Eaton Police Department to train our staff and students on safety procedures and overall awareness of potential threats,” Curry said via email last week.
Curry also said district staff has had students and parents ask the same question as everyone else across the nation: “what else can be done to keep our children safe at school?”
Eaton was one district which had to deal with a threat in the wake of the tragedy.
”Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for the number of threats to increase after a school shooting,” Curry said. “The district has specific policies for safety and welfare of all students regarding threats. Even though a statement may not be meant seriously, threatening comments will always be dealt with seriously by administration.”
Twin Valley Community Local Schools Superintendent Bob Fischer said Twin Valley South has a standing safety committee which meets during the course of the school year to review procedures and guidelines as well as establish dates for various safety event drills.
“In addition, our administrative team talks about general safety issues and updates each month during our Admin Team meetings,” Fischer said. “Anytime a school incident happens, we continually look at each unfortunate event and scrutinize our practices to try to ensure that we have the proper plans in place based on any possible scenario.”
On Feb. 12, the TVS administration met with an outside security company, according to Fischer, “to look at some potential updates that we can potentially make to our current security activities within the district. Our focus, besides educating our students, is to constantly work to ensure that the safety of our students and staff is always a top priority.”
Dr. Matt M. Bishop, Superintendent for the Preble Shawnee Local School District, reported PS had not received any threats or situations resulting from the Florida tragedy.
“There was some buzz around the SHS social media threat that resulted in an arrest in Clark County,” Bishop said. “We are always interested in evaluating our plan — our response — and the protocols we have in place to protect our students, staff, and community when they are in our school buildings. While it is important to regularly review these plans, when an event happens, like the one in Florida, it does result in extra scrutiny. We will be meeting with our Safety Committee soon to review the plan and the suggestions people have expressed.”
National Trail Superintendent Jeff Parker said there was a little “buzz” the day after the incident in Florida, but the district had not put together any formal lessons, discussions or programs.
“Administratively, we have had some specific discussions over the last week, but we talk informally and formally (monthly) about school security constantly. We don’t wait for an ‘event’ to have safety discussions,” he said.
“Just a couple days prior to Feb. 14, we had an outside ‘consultant”’ do a safety audit of our buildings. I believe all five Preble County Schools had this group in early that week,” Parker said. “This is the second safety audit from an outside organization that we have had in the last 18 months. National Trail has a School Safety Director in John Toschlog (who also serves as Transportation Director). John is always looking at our facilities with safety in mind and he is always examining our safety protocol. We are very fortunate to have an outstanding relationship with the Preble County Sheriff’s Department. They are in our building on a regular basis.”
Parker added, no students or parents have contacted the school staff directly. “I believe some staff members and administrators have had some informal discussions with students, but nothing out of the ordinary,” he said.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.