One day after a homemade device exploded in Pleasant View Middle School, The South-Western City School District received $248,000 from the U.S. Department of Education to help enhance their readiness and emergency management plan.
On June 3, an explosive device went off in a trash can in the school’s cafeteria. According to Sandy Nekoloff, executive director of communications, the device exploded around 12:30 p.m. while students were in the cafeteria.
"No one was injured and there was no damage to the school," she said.
Under district policy, the school principal decides what measures to take in emergency situations. School officials called the Pleasant Township Fire Department and were told to evacuate.
"The buses were there quickly and the students and staff were evacuated safely and effectively," Nekoloff said.
The seventh and eighth grade students were taken to Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, per orders from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department. Then they were transported to the recreation center at Westland High School.
According to the sheriff’s department, the device that exploded was called a MacGyver bomb, which consists of household chemicals, aluminum foil and a plastic soda bottle.
Nekoloff explained that once district officials were allowed back into the building, they began to notify parents on their auto dialer list. The message told parents what had happened, that the students were evacuated and safe and that school would be in session for its last day.
"We had to wait until we could get back into the building so many parents found out beforehand," Nekoloff said.
Nekoloff also explained that last fall the district updated their safety and crisis management plan.
"The staff at Pleasant View followed the procedure and did a wonderful job," she noted.
Pleasant View houses about 830 students. Two students are under investigation by the county sheriff.
"Because this is a police matter, the district cannot comment," Nekoloff explained.
Once the investigation is complete, the district can take disciplinary action.
Emergency management grant
U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spelling announced on June 4 that SWCS was one of 92 school districts in the country to receive a grant for emergency management plans.
"Nothing is more important to Americans than the safety of their children," said Spellings. "These grants will support that effort by helping more school districts strengthen their crisis planning and better coordinate with the entire community to ensure the safety of our schools and students."
The Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) grant program provides funds for local education agencies to improve their emergency plans. For a district to qualify for a grant, its plan must address all four phases of emergency management: prevention-mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Plans would also commit the district to coordinate with local law officials and local government agencies.
The funds may be used to coordinate with local emergency responders, conduct drills and exercises, purchase emergency supply equipment, and train staff and students on emergency response.
Nekoloff said after the Pleasant View incident, the district will be reviewing its emergency plans.
"Now we will have additional funds to do that," she said.