Summer vacation is winding down and it will be back to school for students. With the resumption of classes comes the worry in the back of the mind of every parent: Is my child safe at school?
The Safety Services Dept. at USD 259 is responsible for all aspects of school safety, including bullying and harrassment, suicide awareness and prevention, visitor security and the rare but deadly threat of an armed intruder.
USD 259 has adopted the national intruder response model that teaches three approaches to staying safe depending on the circumstances. That is the “Run, Hide, Fight” model.
It teaches running away from danger if there is a safe pathway out of harm’s way as the first and best option. When there is not a clear path out, students are taught to lock and barricade doors, turn out the lights, silence all electronic devices, hide out of sight behind closed doors or large objects and remain very quiet.
Finally, as a last resort, students and teachers are taught to be prepared to fight for their lives. The training teaches them to use anything they can grab that might be a weapon and be prepared to throw books, binders, chairs or anything else that might be enough of a distraction to the intruder that he can be tackled and a weapon taken away.
A statement on the USD 259 website from Terri Moses, executive director of Safety Services, reads: “We want staff to know that ‘Run, Hide, Fight’ is about options.No single response fits with all situations, but we want them to know this is another option so that they can respond appropriately. We want everyone to be prepared,”
Prevention is the Best Option
The best option for avoiding a violent incident in a school building is prevention.
All USD 259 high schools now have metal detectors that students or visitors entering the building must pass through.
A “hall pass” has been in effect at USD 259 schools for almost a decade, requiring all visitors to show ID and wear a badge showing they are approved to be in the building.
All students and faculty are also informed on the district policy of “see something, say something” which encourages reporting of any situation that causes concern. Wichita Public Schools students have the ability to provide anonymous tips to keep schools safe. The district’s Crime Stoppers in Schools program has created the Speak Up program, which allows students, staff and parents the ability to send anonymous tips through a secure website, app or phone number. The funding for these services is provided by Crime Stoppers of Wichita and Sedgwick County, a division of the Wichita Crime Commission.