We recognize that these are trying times for school communities. It is important that we communicate with you regarding issues surrounding recent student deaths and school safety issues. We want to update you on current efforts underway to address these events impacting our children, their families, and our community.
We have been fortunate that for years, the school districts in Stark County have had a strong and ongoing collaborative relationship among themselves, law enforcement, and mental health agencies in order to address common problems. Once again, we have come together to collectively address the current issues. As a result, our district, along with 23 other school districts, are doing the following:
- A “Safety and Security Task Force” has been formed to discuss and recommend short and long-term measures to be implemented by our schools. It includes individuals with years of experience, both at the local, state and national levels, who have dealt with such issues. The initial report of the Task Force is attached.
A coordinating committee composed of experienced mental health experts, our health departments, law enforcement and education representatives have been meeting to try to find the root causes of teenage deaths and school violence in our community. Specific recommendations have already been shared and adopted with our schools.
Two individuals associated with the Society for the Prevention of Teenage Suicide were brought to Stark County this week. They both have years of experience in advising schools and communities on this issue. Training sessions are being conducted this week for all 23 districts. Also there are two resources you may find helpful on the front page of our webpage.
This has been a most difficult school year. Please know that we have done, and continue to do, everything humanly possible to protect your children. Our district constantly reviews and revises our safety and security measures. Just as important however, we need your help to address the serious mental health and family issues our children often face.
These problems will not be solved overnight. Some issues can and are being addressed now. However, many solutions will not be quick, easy, or inexpensive and may involve helping one child at a time.
We know our parents, students and community deserve no less than our best efforts. That is what we are continuing to pursue.
Lake Local Schools
STARK COUNTY SCHOOLS SAFETY AND SECURITY TASK FORCE REPORT
March 1, 2018
Since the school year began, there have been numerous events involving student deaths and concern for school safety issues. Therefore, law enforcement and educators convened a task force to review current safety and security issues in our schools and to make recommendations for any additional measures.
I. COMMITTEE MEMBERS
George Maier, Sheriff, Stark County
Todd Krajeck, FBI agent, Canton Office
Tim DelVecchio, Consultant for Security Services; formerly Ohio Department of Homeland Security
Doug Swartz, President, Police Chiefs Association
Joe Chaddock, Superintendent Stark County Educational Service Center (SCESC)
Joe Knoll, Superintendent, Marlington Local School District
Brent May, Superintendent, Plain Local School District
Chris DiLoreto, Superintendent, Jackson Local School District
Jeff Talbert, Superintendent, Alliance City School District
Mary Jo Shannon Slick, Esq., General Counsel (SCESC)
II. FOCUS OF THE TASK FORCE
Review issues raised by school districts, community members, parents, law enforcement and security experts regarding additional equipment, procedures, personnel and plans that have been suggested for implementation in Stark County School Districts, e.g. metal detectors, arming staff, increased law enforcement.
The committee has discussed the current state of school safety and security plans. Due to legal requirements, individual district plans are not public records. However, one of the task force members, Mr. DelVecchio, working in conjunction with law enforcement and district safety teams, has reviewed each of the schools building/district safety plans for compliance with legal requirements and any necessary upgrades.
Included in the task force’s discussions were areas such as the purchase and use of metal detectors/wands, arming school staff and increasing professional law enforcement’s presence in our buildings. The discussion included examples of the implementation of these tools that have been used in other school settings, their effectiveness, potential costs and any issues involving negative consequences of their use.
While the task force can share its conclusions, it must be cautious in sharing the rationale for them. In discussing the pros and cons, we need to exercise discretion so that we don’t educate someone who might contemplate harming our children.
However, each district must evaluate its own safety plan and circumstances, working with law enforcement to make any final determination on these issues.
Metal Detectors: due to
significant logistical issues, and numerous points of ingress and egress, these
are not recommended at this time.
Detection Wands: These may be a more viable option, in the short term, to
assess individual students who pose a reasonable suspicion.
Arming School Employees: The Task Force has reached out to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to explore the legalities involved in arming school personnel. However, this should not be construed as an endorsement for or against such a proposal.
Hiring additional law enforcement officers for
our school buildings: The Task Force was unanimous in its conclusion that an
increased presence of professional law enforcement should be seriously
Mental Health Services: There was overwhelming
agreement for the urgent need of additional resources from the metal health
community. Outreaches to both our students and their families is sorely needed.
While no one knows for sure what all the causes may be for our country’s crisis involving teen deaths, school safety issues and gun violence, from the first hand experiences of members of this Task Force, we can offer several factors we believe are relevant.
There are often factors impacting both children and their families. They include mental health issues, the lack of affordable health insurance to seek counseling services, misuse of technology and the increasing downward economic spiral of many families.
Therefore, it is now clear that no one segment of our society can solve these problems. It will take a combination of parents, students, schools, law enforcement, mental health, the private sector, national and state legislators and our communities to fix these problems.
will need all of these individuals working together to demand the expertise and
resources necessary to fund solutions. We should be aggressive and relentless
in demanding these solutions. Our children deserve no less.