EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a series of stories that will inform readers about measures being taken in Miami County schools — prior to the new school year beginning — to ensure the safety of students and faculty.
CASSTOWN — While teachers make their final touches to their classrooms, administrators spent their summer focusing on how to improve the safety and security of its students and staff before the first day of school.
Miami East Local Schools added a full-time Miami County Sheriff’s Office School Resource Officer in addition to its rotating deputies to its campus. Deputy Roger Davidson will serve as the district’s SRO. Davidson formerly served the Milton-Union district.
The district will pay $62,724 for the first year of service; $64,606 for the second year; and $66,544 for the third year.
The contract includes 40 hours of service per week to the district for the school year. The contract runs July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2021.
For the 2016-17 school year, the amount paid to Miami County Sheriff’s Office was $26,887.50 for a rotating deputy on campus.
Superintendent Dr. Todd Rappold said Davidson was introduced to the staff on Friday.
Rappold also said administrators and counselors have attended in-service training sessions to prepare for the school year in addition to the full-time SRO. Rappold also said the district has installed additional security cameras and has upgraded older ones.
“The district spends well over $200,000 a year on safety,” Rappold said. Rappold said the district’s safety plan evolves based on current trends in school safety measures.
“Over the years the plan has been updated as a result of our positive relationship with the Miami County Sheriff’s Department. The District appreciates its close relationships with these deputies, many who are also parents in the District, who want to ensure everyone is doing their part to ensure a safe campus,” he said.
EMERGENCY RESPONSE PLANS
According to Dr. Todd Rappold, the district reviews its emergency response plan on a quarterly basis. All schools are required to have plans, which are designed locally with the help of law enforcement, emergency management, public health officials and all other key stakeholders, he said.
According to Rappold, during the 2017-2018 school year the department of Homeland Security worked closely with all three schools on campus to review the Emergency Response Plans and offer suggestions and comments. Additionally, county agency representatives from across Miami County reviewed the plan and offered additional suggestions and comments.
“It’s important that the plan is reviewed often, updated when needed, and input sought from stakeholders in the District with safety backgrounds,” Rappold said.
These plans include procedures to respond to critical incidents ranging from bomb threats, fires and gas leaks, to an active shooter situation.
“Training students and staff is a key component of ensuring a safe and secure school environment,” he said. Rappold said the district continues to spread the message of “See Something, Say Something,” to keep the district safe.
THREAT ASSESSMENT TEAM
When a threat is reported, the district assesses the nature of the report with its threat assessment team which undergoes training throughout the year, Rappold said.
“The team encompasses a wide range of staff members from across the district and also includes community members with specific expertise levels in the area of safety,” he said. “However, the expectation of the district is that everyone participates in ensuring the safety of the District. Parents, students, and staff members are quick to pass along key information so items can be quickly addressed. Everyone plays a vital role in the safety of the district.”
Rappold said the threat assessment team meets on a regular basis to discuss training programs for students and staff to prevent violence and review mental health concerns. Annual training in these areas are part of the district’s on-going professional development.
The district also utilizes the Safer Schools Ohio Tipline to help report potential concerns.
“All potential threats are taken seriously. When the administration is made aware of a possible threat or concern involving the school or student, we work closely with the Miami County Sheriff’s Department,” he said. “Additionally, when the district conducts drills additional deputies are invited onto campus to assess the procedures and offer suggestions.”
“We make certain that safety drills are being conducted on a regular basis,” he said.
In addition, Rappold said the district offers programs such as the Rachel’s Challenge Program “to encourage students to create a safe and inclusive climate in campus.”
For the 2018-2019 school year additional counselors will be on campus to assist students and parents dealing with stress and anxiety.
“All of our schools are dedicated to providing a school environment that is physically, socially, emotionally and intellectually safe for all students. In these efforts, we nurture and strengthen the existing positive climates with a focus on respect, ethical behavior, and global citizenship within and among all members of our school community. At all ages and levels, our schools aim to be kind, caring, and supportive environments, places where our students can safely strive towards and achieve lofty and ambitious goals. District wide, we are committed to these efforts as we continuously improve the school experience for our entire educational community,” Rappold said.
The first day of school for Miami East Local Schools is Tuesday, Aug. 21. For more information, visit www.miamieast.k12.oh.us.