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With the start of a new school year, student safety a priority in Butler County – Butler Eagle | #schoolsaftey


As part of its safety plan, Seneca Valley School District maintains a relationship with its secondary campus school resource officers. From left, school resource officers Chris Miller, Chris Pipkin and Chris McGee. Submitted photo

Jason Young, a school police officer and supervisor of safety and security at Seneca Valley School District, said he spent the summer evaluating safety protocols and coming up with different plans for school safety.

With the beginning of the school year, student safety protocols are on the minds of faculty and staff members everywhere.

Staff from Moniteau, Knoch, Butler and Seneca Valley school districts recently shared their thoughts on security measures and how they keep students safe.

Seneca Valley

Sometime this semester, the district will implement a weapon detection system that is like an “upgraded” metal detector, Young said.

Secondary school students are randomly screened through metal detectors, he said.

Officer Jason Young, at Seneca Valley School District, is seen using the Raptor system at the District Administrative Center. The system, also implemented by the Butler Area School District, performs basic background checks. Submitted photo

“We do random metal detector days,” Young said. “We don’t have (metal detectors) in a set place so we can keep them guessing. (Students) don’t know where or in which building (they are).”

The safety protocols and training are constantly being revisited based on current practices, Young said. Administration cannot afford to be lax when it comes to safety, he said.

“We always have to investigate every possible lead and every possible call that comes in,” Young said. “We can’t ever afford to be wrong in any case.”

Moniteau

During the coronavirus pandemic, students at Moniteau Junior/Senior High School kept their backpacks on their person, with stopping at their lockers between classes discouraged to minimize contact between students and help mitigate the spread of the virus.

The start of the fall 2023 semester marks the return of the no-backpack rule in class for the junior/senior high school.

After some parents expressed concern at an Aug. 28 school board meeting over a no-backpack rule, superintendent Aubrie Schnelle shared that the rule had been in place for many years at the recommendation of state police. It was not a new rule, Schnelle said, but was being reinstituted this year for the first time since the pandemic.

She said the district implemented the no-backpack rule at the recommendation of a security assessment provided by the state police Risk and Vulnerability Assessment Team.

Students are able to bring backpacks into the building but must keep them in their lockers until dismissal, staff noted at the meeting. Students are also able to visit their lockers between classes, they said.

The district is not implementing any new safety protocols this semester, Schnelle said Sept. 1. In addition to the no-backpack rule, the district has kept its metal detectors.

“What we’re trying to do is keep students as safe as possible using recommendations received from various law enforcement agencies,” she said.

The no-backpack rule offers a second layer of protection to the metal detectors, Dustin Thompson, co-principal of student affairs, said at the meeting.

Knoch

School administrators from Knoch School District are open to hearing any safety concerns students may have, said superintendent David Foley.

“We listen to family concerns about safety and welcome students to come forward (with concerns),” Foley said.

Secondary students go through metal detectors, he said, and bag searches are common practice. While metal detectors are not completely foolproof, Foley said they offer another layer of protection.

“We would like to believe that metal detectors do catch things as they come through, but (they) also provide a deterrent for students trying to bring something in school that should probably be something left at home,” Foley said.

Any adult that passes into the elementary school must check in and walk through metal detectors, Foley said.

Foley shared that teachers at all schools undergo threat assessment training, and retired state troopers regularly move throughout each of the buildings, checking door locks and making sure school safety protocols run smoothly.

The district also holds a monthly safety committee meeting, Foley said.

“We evaluate everything from a pothole in the parking lot to maybe door locks need changed,” he said.

Foley said district administrators and staff are doing everything in their power to make sure students are focused on school.

“(The district) is working hard to provide a safe environment for students to feel comfortable in … an environment to come ready to learn in, and not come in worried about school safety,” he said.

Butler

Superintendent Brian White said the Butler Area School District remains proactive when it comes to school safety, and named an extensive surveillance system and safety plan among elements implemented by the district.

Additionally, White said the district relies on retired state troopers, city police, Butler Township police, human services and more to work together and help keep the buildings safe.

White said staff undergoes regular training on school safety, and that metal detectors are in every school, along with a Raptor system in the intermediate high school that performs basic background checks and screening for sex offenders.

The attitudes around safety have changed dramatically from White’s time as a student, he said.

“It’s a different kind of culture,” he said.

While White shared that the district is committed to keeping students safe, efforts to prevent school violence are not pleasant to think about.

“It’s unfortunate,” White said.















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