BCSD School Safety
In thirty years working in education and attending school before that, I have been through multiple fire drills and tornado drills each year. These are very important and we must be ready. Luckily in this length of time, I have never experienced a fire or tornado.
The safety and security of our children and staff is our top priority. The sad situation is in this day and age these longstanding drills do not cover the crisis that is most likely to happen. So, we must be ready for other threats. We must live in real world with lockdown drills such as the A.L.I.C.E. (Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate) drill. This is something I never thought would be a concern in schools – but it is our reality.
We are very fortunate to have Barberton Police Department officers as our School Resource Officers. They are armed, highly trained, and get continuing training year-round on school crisis intervention and prevention. Plus, they are in our school buildings all day and are building relationships with our students and families. Many school districts are holding separate levies to attain what we already have in place.
We train and drill with the A.L.I.C.E. concept. The A.L.I.C.E. drill is all about decision-making on whether to lockdown or evacuate based on the location of the threat. Communication is the key, and we are working to get police dispatch connected to our camera system in the case they need to access to view a crisis call from our schools.
In our schools in the last nine years, we have created realistic situations for our staff, students and Barberton police to train and be prepared. After each drill, we discuss decisions made with staff and police. We have gotten better each year. There has been outside law enforcement response to the buildings in under a minute from each drill.
There has been some question about soft lockdowns. When there is a threat of some type reported in the community on the outside, we sometimes go into a “soft lockdown” as a safety precaution. The staff is notified and it’s business as usual to avoid unnecessarily alarming the students. We use common sense and place additional limits on who comes in or out of a building until the threat is cleared. No, I do not always know the specific details of each situation (that is for the police to know), but this decision is made to keep the students and staff safe in case an issue arises.
We have many other safety items in place such as the Stop It app, online reporting and the crisis hot line. These are for anonymous reporting. There are room alarms and an alert system for internal crisis communication that will send messages to staff phones and computers. Each school has an entering and exiting procedures and protocol and for the 2019-2020 school year we are adding the Raptor System.
Anyone entering a building during the school day will need some type of state ID. This will monitor sex offenders, give notification of criminal history, and custody issues. We are upgrading our alarm systems in the schools, which adds the ability to send us notifications when a door is ajar or when someone exits a door that they were not supposed to exit.
Last year we added a Safety Monitor position to BHS and BMS. They are constantly walking around the schools checking doors, parking lots, and monitoring our camera system. Periodically we have the drug and weapons dogs come in the buildings for random checks and sweeps. They have open an invitation and know they can stop by at any time. Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year we will also have metal detecting wands in each school that will be used at random times. These will detect any type of weapon, and also vaping devises.
In the news you may hear additional safety theories, such as arming our teaching staff with firearms. In rural areas, where districts cover 100 square miles and the closest law enforcement agency is a highway patrol car, perhaps that could be an effective solution.
Barberton is nine square miles and very fortunate to have trained / armed School Resource Officers in each building. Our camera systems will be connected with dispatch and there has been outside law enforcement response to the buildings in under a minute during our drills. While many debate this topic, I’ll stick with the qualified Barberton Police force that are well-trained and have an investment with our students and community. Our staff members have enough on their plates!
Did you know our Safety Council, led by Barberton Police Chief Morber and others from the police department, meets frequently throughout the year with a focus on improving and adding to our layers of security. Nothing is foolproof and there is always a human factor involved. We are always trying to improve, train, and get better. The most powerful action we can do is build trust, positive relationships, and a responsible communication-first culture.
Remember, is it very important - whether we are inside or outside of our community - to know that if you “See Something, Say Something.” Students and families communicating with us are our first line of defense. Thank you for supporting us building a better Barberton one student at a time.
Barberton City School District