Board Talks School Safety

PRAIRIE GROVE CON­SID­ERS WAYS TO BOOST STU­DENTS’ SE­CU­RITY

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Lynn Kutter

PRAIRIE GROVE — In light of the tragic fa­tal school shoot­ings in Park­land, Fla., Prairie Grove ad­min­is­tra­tors have stepped up dis­cus­sions for ad­di­tional se­cu­rity mea­sures to pro­tect stu­dents, teach­ers and oth­ers.

“Folks, there have been more pub­lic shoot­ings lately, not just at schools, than any I can re­mem­ber,” Su­per­in­ten­dent Allen Wil­liams told School Board mem­bers at their Feb. 19 meet­ing.

A shoot­ing at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School in Park­land on Feb. 14 left 17 stu­dents and adults dead, with many oth­ers in­jured.

A for­mer stu­dent, Niko­las Cruz, has been charged with 17 counts of pre­med­i­tated mur­der. In­ves­ti­ga­tors said Cruz used an AR-15 ri­fle to carry out the shoot­ings. News ac­counts say the mas­sacre un­folded in less than 10 min­utes.

Wil­liams said school of­fi­cials will take a “pretty hard look” at any threat­en­ing or sus­pi­cious state­ments made by stu­dents or oth­ers or if any­one is ac­costed at school.

“That’s a ‘no go zone’ as far as things to say,” Wil­liams said. “If you hear that some­one has been out of school a few days, that’s prob­a­bly the case. I’m not go­ing to apol­o­gize for it.”

Board mem­ber Bart Orr said he re­ceived five calls the day af­ter the Florida shoot­ing from con­cerned par­ents ask­ing what Prairie Grove is do­ing for se­cu­rity.

“It’s on ev­ery­one’s mind,” Wil­liams said. “It’s a tragic deal.”

He said stu­dents and teach­ers have been asked to be aware of what’s go­ing on around them.

“If some­one has tar­geted or threat­ened some­one, you need to tell some­one,” Wil­liams said. “Hope­fully our kids have learned

“If some­one has tar­geted or threat­ened

some­one, you need to tell some­one. Hope­fully our kids have learned that les­son.”

Allen Wil­liams Prairie Grove Su­per­in­ten­dent

that les­son.”

Wil­liams said he also asked all prin­ci­pals to thor­oughly look around their build­ings with an eye to­ward any safety is­sues that need to be ad­dressed.

The dis­trict ap­plied for a grant to hire a sec­ond school re­source of­fi­cer but did not re­ceive the grant. Wil­liams said he be­lieves the board needs to de­cide whether to go ahead and add an­other SRO, grant or not.

A sec­ond re­source of­fi­cer would spend more time at the high school but be avail­able for other schools as needed, Wil­liams said.

The salary for the dis­trict’s cur­rent SRO is funded 50 per­cent by the city and 50 per­cent by the school. Wil­liams pro­posed the school pay 75 per­cent of the salary for a sec­ond school re­source of­fi­cer.

He said he would talk to city of­fi­cials about a sec­ond school re­source of­fi­cer.

Orr won­dered about hav­ing re­source of­fi­cers at all schools, if that was a pos­si­bil­ity. Wil­liams said that was one idea. An­other idea, Wil­liams said, would be to look at hav­ing a se­cu­rity guard posted at each school.

Prairie Grove schools have a pro­gram in place called ALICE that goes into ef­fect if an ac­tive shooter is on a cam­pus. ALICE stands for “Alert, Lock­down, In­form, Counter, Evac­u­ate.”

The pro­gram stresses that stu­dents and teach­ers need to be proac­tive if an ac­tive shooter is in the build­ing and to try to es­cape if pos­si­ble. If es­cape is not an op­tion, then do what­ever they can to sur­vive.

Prairie Grove will con­tinue to use ALICE, Wil­liams said.

An­other se­cu­rity mea­sure is a panic phone app called the RAVE Panic But­ton. Teach­ers and other staff have the app on their smart phones. Wil­liams said he did not think the app was still in ser­vice but el­e­men­tary Prin­ci­pal Jonathan War­ren re­cently pushed it in­ad­ver­tently and within min­utes po­lice of­fi­cers were at the build­ing.

The state Depart­ment of Emer­gency Man­age­ment signed a con­tract with Rave Mo­bile Safety of Fram­ing­ham, Mass., in 2015 to pro­vide the app for pub­lic school em­ploy­ees.

If an emer­gency comes up, a per­son can push a spe­cific but­ton on the app to alert 911 about the type of emer­gency in­volved. Choices are ac­tive shooter, med­i­cal, po­lice, fire or other.

When ac­ti­vated, the app sends out text mes­sages to all those in the school who have the app on their phones or are reg­is­tered with the pro­gram.

Wil­liams said he does not know if the state plans to con­tinue to fund the panic app but was in­ter­ested in call­ing the com­pany to see what it would cost for Prairie Grove to use it or to see if there are other sim­i­lar pro­grams out there.

David Kel­logg, as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent, said a ven­dor had con­tacted him about pre­sent­ing his com­pany’s emer­gency re­sponse pack­age. The dis­trict al­ready had a meet­ing on op­er­a­tions sched­uled in March and Kel­logg said the ven­dor was in­vited to at­tend the meet­ing.

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