By KAROLYN GEPHART
Safety was the top priority at a meeting in Friendswood ISD July 30.
Superintendent Thad Roher presented the School Safety Action Plan recommendations to the Board of Trustees where the Board discussed and deliberated each recommendation.
Erich Kreiter, Executive Director of FISD Safety and Operations prepared a report from several meetings of a safety-based committee created in June 2018. Kreiter joined FISD as the Executive Director of Operations and recently became the Executive Director of Safety and Operations at the retirement of Joel Hannemann.
School Safety Advisory Committee (SSAC) was created in order to review the current FISD campus safety layers, budget and safety research/literature; consider the implementation of additional safety measures; evaluate the current student codes and resources available to them; and make recommendations in each area to the Board of Trustees as well as the district administration members.
The on-going committee is comprised of 52 people from various groups including: eight central office administrators, five people from the District Safety Committee, seven individuals from the Superintendent’s Advisory, six campus principals, two assistant principals, eight teachers, one school counselor, one pastor, one youth pastor, two law enforcement officers, seven parents and four students.
“Diversity in membership provides varying viewpoints to consider as a group. Each role signified a group that has a vested interest in the safety and security of FISD. We wanted to have the same amount of community input as those who actually work in the school system,” Roher said.
The school shootings that occurred in Santa Fe ISD brought the topic of safety in schools to the forefront.
“We have taken action immediately prior to things happening. The incident that happened ten miles away in Santa Fe gave us a new perspective,” Kreiter said. “The worst thing is not being prepared for an emergency.”
During its four meetings over the summer, the SSAC reached a consensus on varying topics regarding school safety.
The recommendations presented to the Board were the following, in the order of importance.
Recommendations included additional law enforcement based on current budget and availability; physical security/controlled access of campuses; social/emotional support involving counselors, students and parents; school security monitors for exterior and interior doors, student entry, high traffic points, parking areas, and parent check in stations; and research the implementation of a school marshal program as allowed by TEC 37.0811.
Also recommended were comprehensive safety and security training for all staff, substitutes and students; uniform terminology for communication for different levels of alert at campuses; standardized photo identification badge for staff substitutes to be worn at all times on campus and parents who come for lunch be separated from other students with the district studying an alpha group visitor rotation method.
The committee did not recommend the implementation of fixed metal detectors at campus entrances but did recommend the District consider the logistics and legalities of implementing a random search plan for secondary schools.
Also not recommended was any changes to the dress code or any standardized dress for safety purposes. They also are not recommending clear, mesh backpacks for students.
The Student Code of Conduct will add disciplinary action students who fail to comply with all safety measures and include the “See Something, Say Something” program.
The SSAC plans to continue meeting as needed as directed by Administration or the Board of Trustees.
These recommendations were presented to the Board on July 16. FISD held a Mustang Voices public meeting on July 26 where the recommendations presented with a Q&A following.
To read further into the implementation/rationale behind each recommendation, visit http://myfisd.com/blog/fisd-school-safety-advisory-committee-recommendations/.