After the most recent school shooting threat incident in February that led to the arrest of a juvenile that is now in custody, the district has been moving forward with new plans on improving the behavioral health and climate of the schools as well as the security of the school buildings. The district’s safe school committee held a meeting where parents were able to voice their concerns.
“It’s bifurcated into two sub-committees, protection and prevention. Prevention is all of those things we can do to try to identify things before they happen or people who might be at risk, students, faculty, all of that matters so that the threats never percolate in the first place. The second half is the protection side and it’s the ugly part of how do you harden a school while keeping it soft inside.”
The district implemented a new program this year that offers outpatient mental health services to their students. They’re also working on improving their camera and alarm systems. However, the biggest concern of the parents was the lack of clear communication the day of the threat in february that led to the early dismissal of students.
“Case in point was, I didn’t know the threat happened when it happened and i’m on the board, so I didn’t get the alert either.”
“At the same time there’s a leveling of balancing of what can and cannot be shared based on the fact that there are ongoing investigations, a juvenile might be involved, other things that law enforcement takes over, the Da’s office takes over, and at some point it no longer becomes a district based issue, it’s now a local municipality pressing charges against someone else in cambria county. We kind of lose control over the message at that point.”
After a back and forth between the parents and the school board about how to go forward with new security measures along with successful communication in emergency situations, the board expressed that they are continuously working on a better plan while also being open to suggestions.
“Every single board member’s email address is on the website. Write to us. We actually respond. But I will include this one caveat, please also include a solution because we do what we can, but we only know so much and we’re not everyone and we don’t know everything.”
Parents at the meeting left feeling satisfied after being able to express their anxieties.
“I actually feel really good after today’s meeting just because they listened to us, and they heard what we said and i’m hoping to see something implemented.”
“My main thing is that I wish the communication was better. Especially to us they reach out to us via text message or phone calls for back-to-school night or anything but when we really needed that broadcast system they didn’t reach out to us and i’m actually very disappointed in that.”
The next school board meeting will be this Thursday at 6 o’clock.