Upper Arlington News

District seeks parents' help with safety plans

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In the wake of the school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, Upper Arlington school leaders are asking for parents' help with safety and crisis plans.

A lone gunman allegedly shot his way through a locked door at Sandy Hook Elementary on Dec. 14, then moved from classroom to classroom, killing 20 students -- all 6 or 7 years old -- and six adults. The 20-year-old gunman then killed himself.

The impact of the tragedy rippled across the country. In central Ohio, some local districts responded by installing more school resource officers in buildings, locking doors that had previously been left unlocked during school hours and discussing ways to increase security during the school day.

The Upper Arlington district does not use school resource officers, but officials want to beef up safety and crisis plans and hope parents will help, said Chris Potts, director of business services.

He said the district will host parent meetings at each building to listen to parent concerns.

"Our goal for the meetings is to reaffirm with parents that our schools are safe, secure, warm and inviting places for their children to learn," he said. "The safety of our students and staff is our No. 1 priority and we take that very seriously.

"We want to reinforce the safety and security measures that we already have in place and thoroughly review those measures," he said. "In addition, any future changes in procedure or additional safety measures to our buildings that are being explored will be outlined."

Potts said the safety and security of students "must be a team approach."

"We want to give parents the opportunity to positively share their thoughts, concerns and suggestions regarding safety measures in our buildings," he said. "It will take all parties - administrators, faculty, staff, students, parents, safety forces and the community - to responsibly and proactively work together to enforce and improve the safety of our schools."

Superintendent Jeffrey Weaver sent an "all call" letter out to parents on Dec. 20, announcing that the district would host the meetings.

"The administration has immediately started the process of devising protocols to proactively address safety and security issues through a broad base of strategies," he said.

In addition to the meetings with parents, Weaver said those strategies include an examination of current safety practices and procedures, a study of best practices in crisis plans, seeking input from local first-responders and from third-party experts.

He said each building has staff members who have received crisis training. The district's crisis plan is reviewed annually and is on file with the Ohio Attorney General's Office.

Staff and students also engage in lock-down and evacuation drills.

Weaver said the district also works with local police and fire department personnel to conduct reviews and threat assessments in each building.

The parent safety meetings are scheduled as follows:

* 6 p.m. Jan. 10 at Greensview Elementary, 4301 Greensview Drive.

* 7 p.m. Jan. 15 at Tremont Elementary, 2900 Tremont Road.

* 5:30 p.m. Jan. 15 at Burbank Early Childhood School, 4770 Burbank Drive.

* 7 p.m. Jan. 16 at Windermere Elementary, 4101 Windermere Road.

* 7 p.m. Jan. 22 at Wickliffe Elementary, 2405 Wickliffe Road.

* 7 p.m. Jan. 23 at Barrington Elementary, 1780 Barrington Road.

* 7 p.m. Jan. 29 at Hastings Middle School, 1850 Hastings Lane.

* 7 p.m. Feb. 5 at Jones Middle School, 2100 Arlington Ave.

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