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News :: VS security audit probes school safety, response issues
· 11:02am October 23rd, 2013
A few days ago, several Vinton-Shellsburg educators reported to Superintendent Mary Jo Hainstock that a suspicious man was loitering around school buildings and even trying to enter some of them.
She explained to them that he was merely doing his job, trying to see how well educators would respond to a possible threat.
“As a part of our work to provide a safe and secure environment for students and staff, we contacted our insurance carrier, EMC, and asked them to do a safety audit,” Hainstock explains.
It was important that school officials not be warned ahead of time, so the audit could more accurately assess the school’s preparedness.
The superintent summarized how that auditor evaluated school safety procedures: “He checked the perimeter of each building to determine if there were open or unlocked doors; he entered each building to check sign-in procedures; he walked around the inside of the buildings to determine if adults would ignore him or verify if he had a name badge and had checked into the office; reviewed the locks we use for classrooms; and conducted other items on his checklist. He also met with our insurance agent, Dave Vermedahl from Three Rivers Insurance.”
However: Just before the school year began, teachers had participated in a safety drill in which they learned how to more aggressively defend students from potential attackers.
Superintendent Hainstock was concerned enough about how this training could cause teachers to respond to the auditor so she warned him. She also called 911 dispatchers and the Vinton Police Department ahead of time to advise them that they may receive calls during the audit.
The teachers and administrators responded well, said the Superintendent. In addition to testing the response to suspicious activity, the auditor also later went through the school facilities to evaluate their safety. This week, he returned to conduct a separate safety audit; this one evaluates the risk of falls and other related hazards.
The district will receive a written report in about two weeks that will outline things that educators are doing well and things the district may want to consider changing, said the superintendent.
“He mentioned that there are not very many buildings in the Midwestthat have the lock-down capabilities that our high school has in place,” Hainstock said. “We discussed some of the challenges of our buildings including the Middle School office’s location and the lack of visibility to the main doors.”
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