An Open Letter to the Greeneview Local Students, Staff, and Parents
Regarding School Safety
Within the last year, school violence events have hit close to home with incidents at West Liberty-Salem, Madison, and Jackson. Recent events in Marshall County, Kentucky and Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida have reinforced that schools have and will continue to be targets of this senseless violence. We would like to think these things could never happen in our small community, but the reality of the trend in schools is that we cannot take the safety of our students for granted. Student safety always has been and will continue to be our number one priority.
We wanted to take this opportunity to reinforce what we have done as a District to increase and strengthen security measures in our school facilities. For the past two years we have conducted trainings for our staff and students should we face an active-intruder situation. In addition, our administration has participated in Greene County School Safety protocol meetings and has met regularly with local and county law enforcement officials. In 2012 our Board of Education made the decision to place an armed police officer in each building to help ensure safety of our staff and students. These officers are a first line of defense, and they would reduce the response time in an emergency from minutes to seconds. We also purchased MARCS radios for each of our buildings so we could have a direct line of communication with law enforcement in the event an emergency takes place. We have also made investments in school crisis software for first responders and staff members, added secure entry systems in all of our buildings, and updated surveillance systems in all of our educational facilities.
We are aware that there is a movement to arm school employees and some schools in our area may choose to take this next step. Administratively, we believe that the presence of an armed and trained police officer in each building is the most appropriate form of protection for our buildings. Greeneview is blessed to have qualified law enforcement officers protecting the students in each of our buildings on a daily basis.
As an administrative team we are conscious of the national student-led movement to stage a walkout of schools in support of stricter gun laws. This student-led act of protest has become a political hot-button topic. Students and staff have a right to demonstrate and express free speech and the district will not attempt to limit or discourage their freedom of expression. However, the school cannot endorse the expression due to the political nature of the debate and our potential civil liability. Should students choose to walk out of school, we will afford them that right, but we are required to treat their protest as an absence from class, assigning the respective consequences that entails. We also have an obligation to ensure a safe and orderly school environment and we cannot allow the protest to disrupt instruction or leave students unsupervised while on school grounds. Student safety is a concern for all of us and we encourage students to express concerns to staff and administration in a productive manner. We believe the safest place for these productive discussions is within the safety of our school buildings.
We do believe that student voice is powerful, so our high school and middle school have taken a proactive approach to creating space within homerooms to discuss the topic of school safety. Similar to the #whatsyour17 national movement, students are discussing positive character traits for 17 consecutive days, focusing on simple ways that they can demonstrate these traits to others. The 17 days are intended to honor the 17 individuals who died in the Florida school shooting. We have proactively worked hard this year to address the culture in our buildings in order to create an environment where students feel welcome and connected. This is another example of what we are doing to make our schools a safer location.
We have taken necessary precautions to increase safety measures, but we must continually encourage staff and students to communicate when they become aware of potential safety concerns. We take reported threats very seriously. When issues are reported, they are investigated by school administrators and local law enforcement to the extent it is appropriate to do so. Please communicate with our administration should you become concerned by what you see or hear. We all play a role in keeping our students safe.
Isaac W. Seevers, Superintendent