In response to last month’s fatal shootings in a Connecticut elementary school, Superintendent Mark Freeman has initiated a review of all school safety and security procedures. Registrar Ouimet Smith will convene a working group of members of the District’s standing safety committee, other staff members, and the Shaker Heights police and fire chiefs to examine:
Current practices in the Shaker schools
Current expert thinking on best practices
Areas requiring further study
Outside experts and resources
“Nothing is more important than the safety of our students and staff,” Freeman said at the January 8 Board of Education meeting. “Although we have done and continue to do a great deal in the area of safety and security, we are open to new thinking and improvements. All changes should be carefully considered.”
The District has comprehensive critical events plans covering all types of situations, ranging from chemical spills to weather emergencies. Fire, tornado, and lockdown drills are conducted regularly.
For purposes of the review, safety is being defined broadly to include everyday situations as well as extraordinary crises. The work group is being asked to develop recommendations that are “realistic, effective, and attentive to the possibility of unintended consequences,” Freeman said. All suggestions will be considered. The work group is expected to make recommendations by the end of February.
In the near term, the District is strictly enforcing the safety procedures already in place and making some building modifications where appropriate.
“Children should be safe in the community, in their homes, and in their schools,” Freeman said. “With the cooperation of students, staff, and the community, we are committed to making our schools as safe as possible.”