A variety of suggestions for improved school safety and security were aired Thursday night at a community meeting hosted by Findlay City Schools, including metal detectors, more school resource officers, more school psychologists, and improved entry procedures.
Josh Fulk was one of several people to suggest metal detectors.
Right now, there’s no way to stop students from bringing a gun into Findlay schools, he pointed out.
“A fast reaction plan is great, but it’s too late,” he said.
Superintendent Ed Kurt said, “The funding’s an issue, but when it comes to a child’s life … I mean, who cares?”
Metal detectors are a possibility, he said.
Multiple people, including some students, suggested more school psychologists.
One student agreed, but added that she has “very strong connections” with some teachers and would feel more comfortable talking to them. She wondered if teachers could receive more training on how to talk to students in distress.
Barrett “Bear” Brooks, a parent, raised the possibility of buying bulletproof shelters that can be put inside classrooms for the whole class to take cover in.
“It’s probably very cost-intensive, but at the same time I think it’s something that we should really think about holistically from a community,” he said.
Kurt said the district had not looked into that yet, “but we’ll look into anything.”
Some attendees identified security weaknesses or other aspects that cause them to feel unsafe.
Laisha Wise, a high school English teacher, pointed out that if she comes back to school in the evening to work on grading or lesson plans, the doors are unlocked and they are not monitored.
Someone “could stash something” in the building during that time, she said.
Kurt said he’d had “that exact conversation” earlier in the day with Mike Martien, head of security at the high school.
A mother cited an incident in which several cross country team members, including her son, had items stolen from inside the school while they practiced, including wallets, credit cards, driver’s licenses with home addresses, along with keys to those homes.
Kurt said he had also discussed that with Martien on Thursday. He added that while the stranger’s entry was a “very serious issue,” the students also should have left their bags in the locker room rather than by the door.
One student said “it’s really sad” that she has to consider security at school, and said there are classrooms “without curtains in front of the giant windows next to our doors.”
“We have not talked about curtains, but I’m glad you said that,” Kurt said.
One lesson from the Parkland, Florida, school shooting was that hurricane-proof glass “may have saved many lives,” he added.
Brooks also raised a few questions about the Boot: What if the shooter is already inside the classroom? And what about students who are in the hallway and want to take cover in a classroom with the Boot already deployed?
“If the intruder is in the room, then we go right to our ALICE (alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate) training, which would be evacuate,” Kurt said.
That scenario could also include distracting the shooter; the exact response depends on the age of the children, he said.
“Once a room’s locked, it’s supposed to be locked,” Kurt said, but he added that “teachers love kids, and they should love kids. And as a teacher I would have a hard time not letting someone in the room.”
If details such as the intruder’s location can be announced throughout the school, teachers can make a more informed decision on whether to let a student in, he said.
In response to a question about progress on Boot fundraising and installation, Sheriff Michael Heldman said about $112,000 is still needed, and installation has been a bit slower than expected in some older buildings.
Donations can be made at https://www.crimepreventionfhc.com/donate.
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