Forest Hills School District holds informational meeting on safety, security | News | #schoolsaftey

SIDMAN, Pa. – In an effort to provide a secure learning environment, the Forest Hills School District held an informational meeting Thursday at the high school for parents to learn more about safety measures and initiatives in the schools.

“School safety is our main priority, and this event is to show the public what we’re doing and have them informed on some of our safety plans and what we’re trying to accomplish,” said Superintendent David Lehman. “We want to be transparent, and want them to have an understanding of the polices and procedures that we’re trying to implement in the case of an emergency and reinforce that with their kids.”

Attendees were provided insights into the district’s security infrastructure upgrades, emergency preparedness plans and collaborative efforts with law enforcement, school safety advisors, counseling service providers and emergency services as well as introductions to the district’s two school resource officers.

“Our goal is to empower the teachers and students to make informed decisions,” Lehman said. “We’re hopeful we don’t have to do anything. We’re hoping that we spend a lot of time on this program and we’ll never have to use it, but I’d rather be overprepared than sit here the day after and say what should we have done.”

Bubba Fatula, owner and president of the Fatula Group and the safety and security consultant for the district, said that within two months of working with the district, it has established an active shooter protocol.

“If, God forbid, a shooter shows up in this school, what are we going to do, what will the kids do, what will the staff do, what will be the verbiage and what will be the policies and procedures,” he said. “I trained the staff and student body with the philosophy of Run-Hide-Fight. Now we’re trying to square the words away like ‘lockdown’ and ‘hold and secure’ that come across on the PA system in a time of a crisis.”

Fatula said the goal is for parents to reiterate the same words they’re hearing at school in terms of safety.

“When both of those entities come together and have the same verbiage and thought process about what you need to do that’s when it’s really good,” he said.

Angela Yoder, clinical director of Reaching Educational Achievements With Clinical Mental Health (REACH), said the district has two mental health clinicians in the schools.

“They provide the same level of outpatient concealing that you would get if you go to a clinic site,” she said. “What we are dealing with is internal safety. If we’re not balanced on the inside you start to see the external behaviors and you start to see more outbursts, drug and alcohol use and less academic achievement which creates low morale and it continues to have a ripple effect.”

She said being preventative with mental health you’ll see less safety outbursts.

“We want to address the stigma associated with mental health and have people normalizing conversations about it,” Yoder said.

Chelsey Crum, who has a son in preschool, said she was attending the meeting to gain a better understanding of safety measures in the schools.

“I want to learn what’s he’s learning, so if he has any questions or if he gets scared I can answer them, too,” the South Fork resident said. “A meeting like this is essential. We need to be on top of this.”

Crum said it gives her a peace of mind knowing the district has a comprehensive plan in place.

“It helps a lot when he comes home and is actively talking about it,” she said. “He knows what he’s supposed to do, so it’s a relief that they are trying to get ahead of any problems.”

Dunlo resident Jamie Mayes said she has twins in seventh grade, and she wanted to attend to learn more about the district’s active shooter procedures.

“I’m impressed by what they’ve done and why they’re doing what they they’re doing,” she said. “This is meeting is very important. It gives you a sense of safety and to know that things will be good if something bad does happen. Everyone will know what to do.”

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