Groveport Madison outlines safety enhancements at schools

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By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

Groveport Madison Schools officials are working to improve safety and security in the district’s schools.

In a letter to district residents posted at gocruisers.org and dated Nov. 22, Groveport Madison Superintendent Jamie Grube wrote, “Each one of us in Groveport Madison Schools cares deeply about the safety and security of our students and staff members.”

Grube noted recent events – including two students arrested for possession of guns at the high school and a fight between four students that resulted in the use of pepper spray to disperse the crowd – that raised concerns among students, staff, parents, the community, the Groveport Madison school board and the school administration.

“We already have plans and systems in place to keep our students safe,” wrote Grube. “We will continue to work with law enforcement officials, school safety and security experts, and our many stakeholders to ensure we are providing a school environment where students feel safe, welcomed, and productive.”

Grube said schools are “a microcosm or reflection of the communities they serve” and that there’s “no magic pill” to resolve safety concerns that often begin “in the neighborhood or at one’s doorstep.”

“We are committed to working with our students, staff, parents, and interested community members to address this challenge,” wrote Grube.

Groveport Police Chief Casey Adams said, “Lt. Josh Short and I remain in close contact with Groveport Madison officials regarding weapons and violence issues.”

Groveport Madison Communications Director Jeff Warner said district officials are gathering information and pricing on metal detectors. He said officials will visit other locations to “see the equipment, the operations, and implications” of metal detectors.

Grube said both wand style metal detectors and walk through detectors are being reviewed.

Grube emphasized the importance of student input as part of the process of improving safety and security. The district is proceeding with the creation of student advisory and parent advisory safety committees to advise the board of education.

Other safety improvements being reviewed include: increasing security staffing at the high school and increasing recruiting efforts to attract female security staff candidates; adding school safety staff; more student support/mental health staff; additional school resource officers; use of detection/emotional support dogs; and evaluating adding an off-site alternative program to serve students with behavioral issues or other needs.

Safety plans, systems, and
supports already in place
Grube said each Groveport Madison location has a School Safety Plan drafted in coordination with Groveport Police and Madison Township Police and Fire officials.

Safety and supports include:

•The high school threat assessment team that identifies students of concern, assesses risk for engaging in violence or other harmful activities, and develops intervention strategies to manage risk.

•Crisis prevention intervention training.

•A school-wide, data-driven, proactive framework for improving learning and behavioral outcomes for all students.

•A positive behavior intervention and support system to improve social-emotional competence, academic success, and school climate.

•Counseling and mental health support.

•An area at the high school, overseen by the counselors and a social worker, where students can go to relieve anxiety, address anger issues, or talk to someone about their concerns. The school also has a calming room where students can practice self-regulating skills when feeling stressed.

•Positive reinforcement programs for students including Lead the Way, Stepping Off to College, and Mapping Your Future.

•Class meetings to discuss behavior expectations and the consequences for violations of the Student Code of Conduct.

•Discontinuing student access to “Guest WIFI” to limit student cell phone use for non-academic purposes in class.

•Implementing student I.D. cards with a magnetic strip and break-a-way lanyard.

•Assign an individual to staff the security cameras throughout the school day.

•Revise dismissal procedures to reduce the number of students in transition at the same time.

•Increase staff presence during class changes, around restrooms, and before and after school.

•Implement an emergency phone tree using Remind App.

•Ordering 20 more walkie-talkies to be distributed to select staff members bringing the total to 40.

•Increasing promotion of the “See Something, Say Something” campaign to encourage students to report concerns to a trusted adult at the school.

•Increasing promotion of the SaferSchools Ohio tip line.

•Creating more opportunities for positive student leadership and development.

Short range actions (1-2 months)
•Develop and conduct a safety survey of high school students and parents for feedback on safety strategies.

•Evaluate prohibiting the use of student backpacks. The high school needs an additional 500 student lockers to implement a “No Backpack” policy (which would be a long range action of seven months).

•Assess and adjust the sensitivity of Vape detectors to ensure the administrative team and security staff are alerted to issues and concerns.

•Explore the possibility of assigning teachers and other staff to assist in covering restrooms throughout the school day.

•The high school’s student leadership groups and staff advisors are looking at additional fun activities that can be implemented to promote a positive atmosphere at the school (events, intramural sports, and team-building opportunities).

Medium range actions (3-6 months)
•Public School Works has a de-escalation training module for staff. Look into how to expand de-escalation training for students.

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