UPDATE: Study Suggests Ways to Improve School Security

By: Brooks Jarosz Email
By: Brooks Jarosz Email

UPDATE: 6/11/13 @ 6:50 p.m.
The results of a study aimed at preventing and preparing for school violence in West Virginia have been released.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin released the recommendations of the Summit on West Virginia Safe Schools, Tuesday afternoon during the KidStrong Conference.

The study recommended 10 steps to prevent and prepare for school violence.

Those steps include a law enforcement presence at all schools and regular active shooter training and drills.

"They're practical things -- things that can be implemented mostly on a local level," U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said. "That's what's critical is community members coming together law enforcement, parents, teachers, kids even coming together helping to make our school safer."

WSAZ.com visited Piedmont Elementary in Charleston to see what's already implemented. Cameras, locks, shatter-resistant glass and an emergency alert system are all installed.

"We have the most precious cargo that anyone could convey to us," principal Steve Knighton said. "So it is important that the safety features that schools do have are up to date and modern enough to provide for that environment."

The study also recommends school systems to implement proven anti-bullying programs. Officials say 75% of all school violence is linked to bullying.

Improvements in communication between law enforcement and school administrators is also recommended.

"We haven't had a child killed by fire in schools in 50 years, but we still do drills," Goodwin said. "We need to have that same vigor with school violence."

The report recommends drills at least once a year with full law enforcement participation.

"That will be an undertaking, there's no question about it," Goodwin said. "But the alternative is too grave to be thought about."

A Safe Schools website has already been launched that will allow everyone to share ideas and information to improve safety.

Goodwin says most of these steps can be implemented by county school boards.

The recommendations for West Virginia Safe Schools are:

1. Establish a single, locked point of entry for every school, where a school official can see and identify would-be visitors before they enter.

2. Install classroom doors that lock quickly from the inside of the classroom or keep doors locked at all times.

3. Install emergency buttons that broadcast a school-wide alarm and call the police.

4. Explore the use of shatter-resistant materials on glass windows and door panels in schools.

5. Establish a Prevention Resource Officer Corps to place more law enforcement officers, as well as retired police officers and veterans, in schools as prevention resource officers.

6. Local police and educators should work together to establish a regular presence in all schools, so faculty, staff, and students know their local police officers -- and police know the layout of every school.

7. Every school should conduct an active-shooter drill at least annually, with full participation from law enforcement.

8. Develop a statewide program to identify potentially violent students early and intervene immediately.

9. Introduce a proven anti-bullying program in every school.

10. Implement a communication system to immediately disseminate information about incidents to parents, other schools and child care facilities.

The study was prompted after more than two dozen students were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut late last year.

Keep clicking WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 6/11/2013 @ 12:30 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The results of a study aimed at preventing and preparing for school violence in West Virginia have been released.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin released the recommendations of the Summit on West Virginia Safe Schools, Tuesday afternoon during the KidStrong Conference.

The study recommended 10 steps to prevent and prepare for school violence.

Those steps include a law enforcement presence at all schools and regular active shooter training and drills.

The study also recommends school systems to implement proven anti-bullying programs. Officials say 75% of all school violence is linked to bullying.

Improvements in communication between law enforcement and school administrators is also recommended. A Safe Schools website has already been launched that will allow everyone to share ideas and information to improve safety.

Goodwin says all of these steps can be implemented by county school boards.

The study was prompted after more than two dozen students were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut late last year.



ORIGINAL STORY 6/11/2013 @ 6 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A school safety summit took place in Charleston to discuss preventing and preparing for school violence.

Teachers, administrators and law enforcement officials gathered Tuesday at the West Virginia Culture Center. The event was hosted by U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin.

A plan is in place to beef up school security in the state. The School Building Authority is spending $30 million to add cameras, detection systems and develop a safety plan. The money is also being used to train teachers and staff and put a safety director in every school.

The deadly outcome of the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., stepped up the discussion between law enforcement and educators.

"We fill them full of violent role models and we fill them full of fear and hate from the youngest days, and Sandy Hook is just the beginning, folks," Lt. Col. Dave Grossman said.

Grossman is an author and expert on violent crimes. He explained the importance of having escape routes and ways to be proactive and plan for violence.

"The greatest achievement is the crime that didn't happen," Grossman said. "We put tens of thousands of cops in our schools, and that's a deterrent."

Lisa Petrovich is a West Virginia native who recently worked at Sandy Hook Elementary School. She spoke about her experience in Newtown.

"You know, there's no guidebook or handbook for something like this, so I think they're just using their common sense and dealing with it the best they can," Petrovich said. "Something positive has to come out of this tragedy."

In Kanawha County, a crisis plan is already in the training phase.

"I think we can always do things better, you know, and we take a look at that everyday," Superintendent Ron Duerring said. "We just distributed that plan to our principals; we're doing a mock lockdown in our schools this month, as well, and everybody's going to follow those plans so we're always looking at ways to keep our students safe."

Other ideas talked about at the summit were not legislative proposals, at least not yet.

After today, the West Virginia National Guard will send teams to test school security. They will also share with teachers what they can do to protect your children.

Beyond the building, Grossman says it's the physical presence of security, not just the uniform and badge but the ultimate deterrent -- armed officers.

"Dollar for dollar, bang for buck, one of the best investments you can make is having a trained, armed police officer on site," Grossman said.

The lessons learned Wednesday is something school districts hope to implement in the near future.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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