Partnerships strengthen school safety
December’s tragedy in Connecticut heightened school safety concerns nationwide. Lake Stevens School District (LSSD) staff members are vigilant and proactive when it comes to student safety, and have clear plans and procedures to deal with emergency situations.
LSSD has several ways to identify potential threats, including:
•A Safe Schools Team;
• The 24-hour confidential Safe Schools Tip Line, 425-397-7233, where anyone can report anything that is of a safety concern. This line is checked daily;
•Awareness of social media messaging; and
Conversations with parents, students, staff and community members;
In a continued effort to reduce the risk of emergencies, plan for the rapid response to emergencies, and minimize injuries to people and damage to property, LSSD administrators recently visited each school to meet with principals and discuss concerns. As a team, the need for several behavioral changes and physical modifications were identified. Some of these include:
• All staff members were reminded of the requirement to wear identification badges while on school grounds;
School visitors will sign in at the main office and obtain a visitor’s badge, regardless of the length or purpose of their visit;
School doors and entry ways will be kept as secure as possible, and exterior doors will be locked when not in use;
•Detailed signage will be developed to communicate rules and expectations;
• Emergency responders will observe our emergency drills and provide suggestions for improvement.
Student Safety PlanLSSD is fortunate to have close working relationships with the Lake Stevens Police Department (LSPD), the Lake Stevens Fire Department (LSFD), the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management and the Snohomish Health District. LSPD and LSFD have detailed information about our buildings. Additionally, the district has a Student Safety Plan in place with the LSPD and district administrators collaboratively work and meet throughout the year regarding safety plans and responses. Work is currently underway to enhance the existing safety plan with guidance from LSPD.
• Increased presence of law enforcement.There are already two full-time Lake Stevens Police School Resource Officers (SROs) working in the district. LSPD also has a school rotation, where officers randomly visit schools within their coverage area at least once a week—walking around the school, providing traffic enforcement and familiarizing themselves with the students, staff and facility. Additionally, John Lovick, Snohomish County Sheriff, made a commitment to strengthen the county’s School Services Unit. The unit is made up of SROs and School Services Deputies (SSDs). SSDs will complement the work of the SROs and be spread throughout the county to serve a large number of schools, beginning March 15.
“We value our partnership with the school district,” said Dan Lorentzen, Interim Chief of Police. “Our officers undergo continual training through state and national agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Institute, on topics like incident management, disaster logistics and emergency communications. Our department’s proactive preparation increases safety within the community and within our schools.”
Continued drills and practiceSchools regularly practice lockdown and evacuation drills with students and staff in preparation for emergencies. The results of those drills are reviewed by the district’s safety committee along, with our SROs and the plan is updated as needed.
“Proactive planning and practice are essential elements of an effective safety program,” said Amy Beth Cook, Superintendent of LSSD. “The district’s partnerships with law enforcement and first responders are invaluable to the safety of students and staff. I appreciate the collaborative working relationship we have with LSPD and LSFD and the support these departments provide our community.”