Westfield Washington Schools holds school safety forum

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At a June 12 school safety forum, Westfield Washington Schools addressed existing safety procedures, community partnerships, new safety procedures and other topics following a May 25 shooting at Noblesville West Middle School that injured a teacher and a student.

From left, Chief Joel Rush, Supt. Sherry Grate and Mayor Andy Cook spoke at a Westfield Washington Schools school safety forum June 12. (Photo by Anna Skinner)

Mayor Andy Cook and Westfield Police Dept. Chief Joel Rush began the forum by sharing some thoughts. Rush said he was still emotional about the incident.

“I was standing in the parking lot of the police station next to one of the other officers just catching bits and pieces of what the radio was saying, and I heard ‘active shooter’ and ‘Noblesville,’ and my heart dropped to my stomach,” Rush said.

Rush said WPD sent eight officers to assist with Noblesville and that if Westfield were to experience a similar event, it would receive the same assistance from other municipalities.

Following his comments, various speakers presented on social and emotional learning and how to best protect the district’s students and staff.

Improving safety procedures includes adding a school resource officer to the district in the coming year. There are currently two SROs – one each at the high school and middle school. In addition to SROs, each elementary school has one school counselor, with multiple counselors working in grades 5 through 12. Other enhanced safety procedures include utilizing school buildings as police substations.

“What we plan to do is to test and roll out a new program this coming August to get officers out of their cars a bit,” WPD Assistant Chief Scott Jordan said. “(We will be) working with the school administration during school days when school is in session and change how we do business. (Officers) will be welcomed in the schools and have a workspace to complete their reports. With just a change in the system, we will drastically increase the number of times uniformed police officers and police vehicles are on the property and in schools.”

With the upcoming construction to renovate the high, middle and intermediate schools, Director of Human Resources and Safety Chris Baldwin said school entrances will be examined. Also, all visitors will be required to complete a background check before entering the school. In addition, trauma packs will be supplied to school nurses.

Following the forum, attendees were asked to participate in table discussions and formulate answers to questions about school safety procedures. The district said it plans to evaluate the responses and talk about them at a July 19 symposium.

For more, visit wws.k12.in.us


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