Lakota Announces Continued Commitment to Safety

Lakota Announces Continued Commitment to Safety, Security Efforts
Posted on 06/28/2018
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School Resource Officer and studentsAt its June 28 regular meeting, the Lakota Local Schools Board of Education voted unanimously to withdraw from the proposed county-wide safety and security levy, initiated by the Butler County Educational Service Center in response to Senate Bill 226.

“The safety and security of our students and staff is always our top priority at Lakota,” said Board President Julie Shaffer. “Even without the potential revenue generated by this levy, we will continue to build upon the strong security measures already in place throughout the district. Our decision to withdraw from the county-wide levy stems from Lakota’s healthy financial position and long-term outlook.”

Earlier this year, Lakota announced that it was researching new safety and security measures that go beyond the November 2013 levy commitments. “We have been exploring new initiatives for the safety and well-being of our district for the past year. Prior to the proposed levy, Lakota had already committed to the implementation of some of these programs,” said Superintendent Matthew Miller. “Those plans remain in place even after today’s withdrawal from the county-wide levy.”

“Our safety and security plans are never complete,” Miller continued. “For security reasons, not all of our protocols are shared publicly, but we are continuously evaluating all of our safety measures.”

The District Safety Committee, which meets quarterly to review and evaluate Lakota’s safety and security protocols, is comprised of district administrators, school resource officers and representatives from West Chester and Liberty townships’ first responders. Additionally, Miller, along with Chief Operations Officer Chris Passarge and school board member Lynda O’Connor, represented the district as part of the recent School Safety Summit initiated by West Chester Township Fire Chief Rick Prinz.

“Lakota Local Schools are the very heart of our community,” said Prinz. “Ensuring the most comprehensive steps are taken to protect students is of paramount concern as the nature and trend of attacks on students and schools across the country evolves and persists.”

The School Safety Summit was convened shortly after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, to consider new measures and protocols to deploy in the interest of school and student safety. However, the shared interest and collaborative relationship between Lakota Local Schools, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office, the West Chester Police Department and West Chester and Liberty fire departments even predates more recent school shootings.  

The updated five-year forecast presented at the May 21 school board meeting accounted for the new safety, security and mental health programs that the District Safety Committee has been exploring this past year.

“We are grateful for the community’s support of the November 2013 levy, which has allowed us to enhance the safety of the infrastructure of our buildings and more than triple the number of school resource officers provided in partnership with Butler County Sheriff’s Office and the West Chester Township Police Department,” said Jenni Logan, treasurer and CFO of the district. “Lakota continues to be good financial stewards of those dollars. Our fiscal responsibility puts us in a position to continue building upon our safety plans without having to return to the ballot.”  

The most recent layer to Lakota’s safety and security plans is the new visitor management system called Raptor. Beginning this school year, all visitors will be required to have their driver's license scanned upon entering school buildings for an instant background check. A more comprehensive check will be performed for volunteers who will work independently with students. This will take the place of the previously required background check through the Bureau of Criminal Investigations. The resource provides a range of other internal safety management tools as well.

Earlier this year, the district announced other new initiatives such as the SaferSchools Ohio anonymous tip line and the implementation of a peer-to-peer suicide prevention program called Hope Squad at its high schools.

New safety and security plans to be implemented in the coming school year have been accounted for in the most recent five-year forecast and encompass the mental health of students. Plans to launch Hope Squads at Lakota’s four junior schools have already begun. Furthermore, following last year’s pilot at Lakota West, access to mental health services will expand to include more buildings as a result of the district’s partnership with MindPeace. Additional efforts, which have not been announced publicly, are being reviewed as well.

Lakota’s new safety initiatives build upon the strong foundation already in place, including but not limited to:

  • A range of safety drills required by law and by the Ohio Department of Education;

  • Active shooter training (ALICE) for all students and staff;

  • Strict and consistent protocols for welcoming visitors and guests into Lakota buildings;

  • Unannounced drug searches in partnership with the Butler County Sheriff’s Office;

  • Proactive anti-bullying programs like Be the Difference, the ID Project and the Fuse Project;

  • A district-wide focus on the E+R=O model, which encourages students and staff to press pause and consider the consequences of their reactions; and

  • Regular administrator training, including simulations, on emergency and crisis management in partnership with local law enforcement.

More information about these safety and security programs is available on the Safety and Security page of Lakota’s website.