CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Class may be out for the summer but educators and law enforcement officers are focusing on school safety.
On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin detailed a list of recommendations for school safety improvements during the state Department of Education’s Office of Healthy Schools 2013 KidStrong Conference in Charleston.
The work on the recommendations started earlier this year.
“We came together and held a summit back in February, a lot of ideas were discussed and have been discussed since and this report is a combination of those discussions,” said Goodwin, the U.S. Attorney for West Virginia’s Southern District.
He said it’s a cooperative effort. “That’s what is critical, community members coming together law enforcement, parents, teachers, and kids coming together to make our schools safer,” Goodwin said.
The report includes ten safety steps that can be taken immediately.
They are as follows:
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 inside the classroom – or keep doors locked all the time.
3) Install emergency buttons that sound a school-wide alarm and automatically call the police.
4) Explore the use of shatter-resistant materials on glass windows and door panels in schools. The state School Building Authority recently adopted this requirement for all new schools.
5) Establish a Prevention Resource Officer Corps to place more law enforcement officers—including retired police officers and military veterans—in schools as prevention resource officers.
6) Bring together local police and educators to develop closer ties between law enforcement and schools.
7) Conduct active-shooter drills in every school 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 violent or disruptive incidents to parents, other schools and child care facilities.
The report also focuses on ways to prevent violence.
“We’ve got to be looking at the causes of violence. They stem from things like bullying, 75% of school shootings can be tied back to bullying. That’s why it’s critical to implement a proven strategy against bullying,” said Goodwin.
The safety steps followed last December’s shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.