Local School Districts Tightened Security In Parkland Massacre’s Wake
Since a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, one year ago today, area schools have enacted a series of measures to improve security.
Last month, schools across the state implemented a new anonymous tip line through the state attorney general’s office. The Safe2Say tip line allows students, parents and others to report gun activity, threats, bullying, depression and suicidal thoughts.
The Wilkes-Barre Area School District has already received several tips through the tip line, Superintendent Brian Costello reported at Monday’s school board meeting.
The Greater Nanticoke Area School District “has been very proactive in safety and security” since the Parkland shooting, Superintendent Ronald Grevera said. Greater Nanticoke hired a full-time school police officer this year, and the $39,000 cost was covered by a Safe Schools Grant.
The district added two walk-through metal detectors and metal detector wands at the high school, and they have also been used for sporting events, Grevera said. Clear backpacks are required in the high school, and they will be used at the Educational Center beginning in the 2019-20 school year, Grevera said.
“All buildings in the district now have locking vestibules, which we did not have a year ago,” Grevera added.
Visitors must now present a valid ID for a check on whether they are on the list of registered sex offenders. The district also plans to use a $7,000 grant to add communication systems to the district through “walkie-talkies” and a repeater for a district frequency through the FCC, Grevera said.
The Wyoming Area School District “has added daily security checks at our secondary center” with all backpacks being individually checked and all students passing through metal detectors, Superintendent Janet Serino said. A constable is stationed at the entrance to the secondary center, and metal detectors and constables are used at the entrances for after school activities at the secondary center.
“The goal is to allow all students to feel safe so their learning is not impeded by fear,” Serino said.
All district buildings require identification of visitors, and cameras have been placed in all buildings, Serino added.
In July, the West Side Career and Technology Center Joint Operating committee approved an agreement with Commonwealth Security Resources LLC to provide armed security guards at the West Side Career and Technology Center, according to a motion approved Monday by the school’s governing board. The Wyoming Valley West School District also paid for security services through the same company, and many of the security guards are constables, said Charles Coslett, solicitor for Wyoming Valley West and West Side Tech.
The Lake-Lehman School Board in July voted to authorize security services at Ross Elementary School from state constables at a pay rate of $23 an hour. Lehman Twp. police started providing a school resource officer at the high school and Lehman-Jackson Elementary School during school hours, and Harveys Lake has been providing a police officer at Lake-Noxen Elementary School.
The Dallas School District and Dallas Twp. reached an agreement to add another police officer to the district’s four-school campus. The district will pay the township roughly $120,000 to have two officers present on campus during school days.
The Pittston Area School District added a school police officer at the intermediate and middle schools and added school visitation monitors at all buildings to act as greeters
The Crestwood School District hired a security chief who patrols the secondary campus and guards supplied by a detective agency to protect the Rice and Fairview elementary schools. Entrances at the elementary schools also were altered.
In the Wilkes-Barre Area School District, teachers and students participate in fire and emergency drills, and the district “has recently increased the frequency of some of these drills to ensure that all staff and students are informed and prepared,” Director of Police Operations Brian Lavan said.
All students in the high schools and junior high schools are now required to go through the metal detector when entering, and all visitors to schools are required to go through the metal detectors, Lavan said.
The district’s school police programs started in 2000, and an officer is present at all schools, Lavan said. Many security measures in Wilkes-Barre Area, such as security greeters and video surveillance, were in place prior to 2018, Lavan said.
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