School security is priority one
What is La Grande School District doing to ensure student safety in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., shooting tragedy? That is the question of the month for parents, grandparents and community members in La Grande. I thought I would take this opportunity to address the issue of safety and security in our schools.
As our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the twenty children and six adults lost in this horrendous event, I want parents to know that our administration is taking proactive steps to ensure the safety of all children in our care.
Several steps have already been taken. Principals have been directed to review “lock in” and “lock out” drills with staff members and to conduct a drill with staff. Principals were also asked to review security and safety procedures for their buildings and to report any areas of concern. Teachers and counselors were provided guidelines from mental health professionals for talking with children about traumatic events, like the shootings in Connecticut, should the topic come up in the classroom.
The La Grande Police Department and the Union County Sheriff’s Department have started a program of random patrols in our schools. The purpose of the program is to provide a police presence at random times in school hallways, parking lots and outside the building to ensure safety of our students.
School Safety Task Force
I have convened a School Safety Task Force for the purpose of assessing our current emergency action plan and recommending improvements for immediate implementation. The task force membership includes representatives from the La Grande Police Department, Sheriff’s Department, State Police, La Grande Fire Department, school board members, school administrators and staff members. I look forward to working with this group to further strengthen safety and security in our school system.
Parents can also help by talking with children about the importance of reporting, to a trusted adult, others who show threatening behavior or make threatening remarks. Also, take time to monitor the videos and movies your child watches, limit video game time and keep a close eye on your child’s internet use. Keep firearms locked up in your home and teach your children about firearm safety.
Most important, talk to your children about what is going on in their lives on a daily basis. Working together, as a community, we can ensure we have done everything we can to keep our children and grandchildren safe.
Larry Glaze is the La Grande School District superintendent.