Preparedness

Texas School Districts Enhance Security Measures

All outside doors will be locked throughout the district, and visitors will 'have to be buzzed in at the front doors.'

by Ashley Rose, Cleburne Times-Review, Texas / September 5, 2018

(TNS) - School districts across the county are doing their part in making sure their students are safe on campus.

Alvarado ISD

In Alvarado ISD, the district has added two more school resource officers from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office to bring their total number to four, AISD Public Information Officer Tommy Brown said.

They also added an enclosed vestibule at Alvarado High School and are converting analog cameras to high resolution digital cameras, storing all information in a reliable, central location.

Burleson ISD

In Burleson ISD, officials said they have implemented several programs to enhance security at their campuses.

In partnership with local first responders, the district is implementing the Standard Response Protocol developed by the I Love You Guys Foundation, which provides a common vocabulary, an understanding of what to do and common expectations of behavior during a crisis.

The SRP defines specific actions in the event of a crisis:

• Lockout: Used when a threat is outside of the building. Everyone is brought inside the building and school continues as normal. Exterior doors are locked and staff are asked to increase situational awareness.

• Lockdown: Used when a threat is inside the building. Classroom doors are locked, lights are turned off and students and staff move out of sight.

• Evacuate: Used when students and staff need to leave the building.

• Shelter: Used when specific protective actions are necessary. This could be due to severe weather.

• Hold: Used when students need to be out of the halls or any reason to restrict movement in the building.

For more information about the program, visit iloveuguys.org/srp.html.

The district also partners with CrisisGo, providing access to emergency plans, evacuation maps, class rosters, checklists and more. This mobile app provides a digital version of emergency management procedures with the SRP integrated for emergency responses.

Using the app, campus staff members can send a panic out to notify the appropriate personnel. Administrators may then send out an “alert” immediately notifying local first responders as well as campus and district staff of the incident.

Godley ISD

In Godley ISD, Superintendent Rich Dear said they can’t discuss much about their safety protocols because they don’t want anyone working around it.

“I can tell you we have monthly emergency and safety drills, updated emergency action plans, visitor management systems and have recently updated our school radio and camera system district-wide,” Dear said. “We utilize the Stay Alert program which allows students, parents or community members to anonymously report bullying or questionable behavior via email or 800 number. We have created a district safety team of GISD parents to give feedback for district safety needs.

“We also know that our students play a big role in keeping our schools safe. We empower our students to become ethical, responsible and caring young people by modeling and teaching good character through the Leader In Me [program].”

He said they believe that positive relationships combined with a safe and friendly environment are essential to students' learning.

“We want our kids to look forward to being in an encouraging environment that empowers them to explore, learn and grow,” he said. “Keeping our schools safe allows students and teachers to focus on learning the skills needed for a successful education and future.”

Grandview ISD

In Grandview ISD, Superintendent Joe Perrin said this year they are requiring all staff along with their junior and high school students to wear ID badges.

“All outside doors will be locked throughout the district, and visitors will have to be buzzed in at the front doors,” Perrin said. “We have installed video doorbells that will allow visitors to be seen and heard before entering a building. We have also added additional swipe card readers and cameras around the district.”

In October, he said all administrators will receive ALICE training covering active shooter response. The administrators will then train their staff the following week, he said.

ALICE — Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate — is a set of proactive, options-based strategies that increase your chances of survival during a violent intruder or active shooter event.

The two-day instructor training course is designed to teach law enforcement, as well as school, church, hospital and workplace administrators and employees skills and strategies that bridge the gap between the time a violent event begins and law enforcement arrives.

Perrin said the safety of their students and staff is extremely important to them.

“It is something that we are always trying to improve upon and is a focus for the district,” he said. “We want to make sure that we do everything we can to provide a safe environment at Grandview ISD.”

Joshua ISD

In Joshua ISD, the district implemented its police department this year. The department is made up of Chief David Hoschar and four officers who patrol all campuses.

The district is the second in Johnson County to create its own department, with Keene ISD creating theirs in August 2015.

The district had been looking to create their own department after ending their contract with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, which provided them with four school resource officers.

JISD Superintendent Fran Marek said safety is their No. 1 goal.

“While we received amazing service from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, I feel having our own police department will give us ownership to be able to implement additional safety procedures which are necessary in our current society,” Marek said.

Keene ISD

In Keene ISD, officials have been very busy enhancing its security measures.

In August 2015, the district created its own police department.

The first chief, Tim Kosar, was there for one year before he was replaced by the current Chief Ronny Potts, who’s been in his position for two years.

In December 2015, the board of trustees approved the district’s guardian program allowing certified personnel to be armed on campus. In June 2017, district administrators and staff also participated in the ALICE program.

This year, KISD Superintendent Ricky Stephens said they have wrapped the windows and doors of their entrances in an effort to buy time in case a shooter tries to shoot their way past their locked doors.

“Also, we just approved the WAVE security button system,” he said. “Throughout the offices and the hallways will be push buttons that automatically alert our administrators, teachers, county and local law enforcement if an active shooter is present.”

Stephens said safety is the very first thing you have to provide a child before you can ever hope to educate them.

“If a child comes to school feeling safe, he is way more likely to learn. Keene ISD takes safety very seriously,” Stephens said.

Rio Vista ISD

In Rio Vista ISD, Superintendent Tim Wright said they can’t discuss most of the things they are doing to enhance security, but they are working on a plan.

They have enhanced campus entrances, and he said he also encourages all his teachers and staff to keep their doors locked at all times.

Venus ISD

In Venus ISD, Superintendent James Hopper said based on feedback from their staff members and in accordance with guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, they have adopted a proactive stance with respect to violent critical incidents.

“All instructional staff members have received scenario based training on the numerous options available to them during a crisis, and they are equipped and empowered to make decisions in order to ensure the safety of the students placed in their care,” Hopper said. “The Venus ISD board of trustees has been more than supportive in terms of campus security and is ensuring that resources are available to meet campus safety needs as they arise.”

He said safeguarding the lives of their students and staff is the utmost priority.

“Effective learning cannot take place in an unsafe environment, and we will provide a safe, secure, learning environment where our students can thrive,” he said.

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