Reynoldsburg Schools reconsider emergency notification policy

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

The arrest of a Reynoldsburg teenager who brought a loaded handgun to the Summit Road campus on Dec. 5 is forcing the Reynoldsburg Board of Education to reconsider its notification policy regarding similar incidents.

During the December board meeting, Board President Joe Begeny, who is also a teacher in the Columbus Public Schools, said, “This is a different world that we live in. Guns are in our buildings and they may be in our buildings every single day. We need to figure out how to balance everyone’s right to know what’s going on in our buildings with the idea of not wanting to create a panic because there are guns in our buildings.”

Begeny praised the work of staff, administrators and safety personnel in building relationships comfortable enough for students to trust adults in reporting the situation before it escalated.

“They (students) can come to someone in authority and say, ‘Hey, this is what’s going on’ or ‘Hey, this is something that you need to be aware of,’” said Begeny, who said he graduated high school shortly after the Columbine incident. “Obviously, no one in Reynoldsburg would want something like that to happen here.”

Advising fellow board members there is always room for improvement, Begeny said district representatives and members of the safety team are considering their options in notifying the public of incidents.

“Do we send a letter home so an eight-year-old boy can go home on the bus, open up the letter and see there was a gun in the school and then he gets panicked and doesn’t want to come to school again?” Begeny asked. “Where do we balance things? The safety staff and teachers are doing these kinds of conversations in the buildings. This is not something new. We’ve been doing this a long time—whether it’s an active shooter drill of that nature or not something completely unaware to our students.”

Begeny said the board needs to decide what to say and how to say it, such as sending out an email blast at the end of the day, posting information on the district website or sending a letter home with students.

With the proliferation of social media, Begeny said it is likely parents and the public will know about a situation soon after it happens, but the district needs to ensure the facts are accurate, allowable by law and not give rise to panic.

“Guns are not the only things in our schools,” said Begeny. “There are drugs in our schools. Everyday everyone walking into the school knows what they are there for and they are keeping their eyes and ears open to keep kids safe. We are working on that and we will find a way to make that information best receivable to everybody.”

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1 COMMENT

  1. More monitors, locking systems that students can’t let intruders in, a police dog to go thru the schools daily. Harder discipline of students breaking the rules. I don’t know if any of this is anything you have not heard a 100 times and may not be cost effective to date. I worry about youth daily. ps Perhaps, volunteers as hall monitors as I am sure the change of classes is when drugs get passed.

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