|Posted on 3/1/2018 9:04:00 AM.|
|(Seguin) -- The Seguin ISD is making sure students, parents and the community know exactly the investments that the district has been making in being proactive should the district ever face a tragedy like many of those being reported across the country. |
Mass school shootings, like the one that happened earlier this month in Parkland, Florida has prompted the school district to share the plans that have been put into place locally for the safety of all students, teachers and employees.
Kirsten Legore, the executive director of student services for the Seguin ISD, shared the district's safety and security measures during Tuesday night's meeting of the Seguin ISD Board of Trustees. Legore, who leads the district's safety and security committee, says the group -- which meets regularly to consider safety training as required by the Texas School Safety Center -- has always tried to keep the Seguin ISD on the cutting edge of remaining vigilant, and making sure that they are implementing new drills and safety features to each campus.
A perfect example of following security trends and trying to stay one step ahead of others is this school year's implementation of the active shooter response protocol better known by its acronym ALICE -- Alert, Lock Down, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. Following the shooting in Florida, many districts took an even greater interest in the Seguin ISD and what district officials were doing. Media attention also helped to promote the district school and it's attempt to save lives. Legore says that ALICE is all about saving lives during an horrific situation.
"I am glad that we are really the first district in this area and really in this region of Texas to roll this out so that students and staff are effectively trained on how to respond and increase the likelihood of survivability in the event of an active shooter. The training started in conjunction with the Seguin Police Department where officers and six Seguin ISD staff including myself were trained to be ALICE certified trainers last April. Staff, district wide, completed the online training and every campus had a two hour scenario training conducted by me with Seguin Police Department Officers and all students pre-k through 12th have been trained through an elementary book appropriate for students as well as E-learning for secondary students. Now, all campuses are conducting monthly drills on those components of ALICE. We had a very large drill just last week at the high school involving all students either evacuating or barricading throughout the campus really to evaluate stairwells and other procedural parts for administrators to watch. In the end, this is over 8,000 people here in Seguin who are now going to be in a better position to survive an active shooter incident wherever they area -- whether they happen to be at school, in a movie theater or in a church," said Legore.
The tragedy in Florida also prompted many in the community to question the presence of armed officers at the local schools. Legore says the district has been very fortunate to have such enriching relationships with officers from both the Seguin Police Department and Guadalupe County Sheriff's Office. She says not only do they offer the added sense of security but they play a vital role -- interacting and mentoring with kids each and everyday.
"We also have two campus security officers at Seguin High School, one at both middle schools and at Burges Disciplinary Alternative School. I work closely with the Seguin PD and the Guadalupe County Sheriff's Office and we benefit here in Seguin as we can hire competent skilled professionals to help keep our students and staff safe," said Legore.
Trustee Ishmael Flores says he is thankful that the district jumped on the idea of having officers on campus years ago -- a decision that many schools are now having to consider.
Legore says perhaps one of the most important components to ensuring student safety is the Seguin ISD's continued focus on mental health. Legore says whether it's the safety of one student or all students -- the district continues its mission to do all that it can.
"We also recognize as a component of safety the need for mental health support and we have greatly increased services with the two Community in Schools professionals at Seguin High School and with plans to expand that into the middle schools. We also work with and regularly refer to Bluebonnet Trails MHMR, Connections, the Children's Advocacy Center and other private local mental health providers to coordinate counseling time for our students. We know that that component needs to be handled so that they can be in school to learn. We've worked with the Guadalupe Valley Christian Counseling Center for years to provide interns to counsel at-risk students at Burges because those students are particularly at-risk. We also have an active presence at the monthly CRCG which is the Guadalupe County (Community) Resource Coordination Group and those are meetings that take place and are staffed with representatives from local agencies to really think outside the box for particularly difficult cases that are more than just a school concern, they are a community concern," said Legore.
Making sure students feel safe is also an important factor in maintaining peace and security. Legore says no matter what grade, child or problem that exist, the district provides an outlet to try to provide help to those in need.
"There's also a safety tip line available on Seguin ISD's website and on the Seguin ISD phone app -- so if you don't have the phone app, download it. There's a nifty tip line which allows for that anonymous reporting of any safety issue but especially one of the big concerns under the new David's Law is for anonymous reporting of bullying. I encourage the community that if you see something to say something and to use that tip line to do that. It's important to note that we investigate safety concerns with law enforcement and many communities have been dealing with threats recently -- some false threats being spread by people out of fear -- not realizing that they are spreading what is not true and also people making threats -- some not serious and others that are. We here in Seguin ISD will continue to investigate all safety concerns and know that there are disciplinary as well as legal consequences for making threats -- false ones included," said Legore.
Legore says parents and community members should be on the lookout for more information on the tip line and app as to get everyone on board.
District officials, of course, say they are committed to doing whatever they can to protect students and will continue to evaluate and address all options -- always keeping the options on the table for future consideration.
Legore says like the district, she hopes the community also does its part to ensure the safety of kids here in Seguin.
"I ask the community to trust that we will notify parents and staff and take appropriate action if a credible threat is in fact found and to please refrain from spreading false misinformation that can cause unnecessary panic. I encourage the community and parents to work with the district, to talk to students about their concerns and what their worries are, to be vigilant and to report concerns and suspicious behavior. Also, one component of safety that can't go unnoted is the need to just be kind. Statistics show that many school shooters have been ostracized or bullied and really helping us to support our 'No Place for Hate' initiative is important and that exist on every campus and to encourage students and everyone to treat each other with dignity and respect," said Legore.
Legore says a future safety plan is also already in the works for the Seguin ISD. She says the district is in the process of coordinating a District Safety Summit scheduled for Saturday, April 21. She says the summit will be an outreach effort addressing some very important safety related issues for parents and the community. More detailed information on this safety summit is expected to be released in the next few weeks.