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More than ever, student safety is key

Friday, December 21, 2012

NOREEN HYSLOP photo-nhyslop@dailystatesman.com Flags across the nation, including the one above at Southwest Elementary, have flown at half mast this week, honoring the 20 children and six adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School last week in Newtown, Conn. The local school district is exploring more stringent safety measures in light of the Connecticut tragedy.
In the wake of the tragedy at Newtown, Conn., schools across the country are looking at measures to increase the safety of their students, and Dexter is no exception. The issue was addressed at this week's meeting of the Board of Education, with Dr. Thomas Sharp telling board members and now the public through a news release, "Even with concerted efforts, there is more to be done to protect our children."

Safety within the Dexter Public School system has consistently been at the forefront. The issue of student safety is discussed on a regular basis, with updates brought before all administrators in their weekly dialogues.

Perhaps never in the history of the public school system, however, has the subject of safety been a key issue in America than during the week that has followed the shooting deaths of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Legislative proposals are on the table that if passed, would enable qualified school personnel to respond with what Sharp refers to as "retaliatory force."

"In my opinion," Sharp says, "these proposals must be addressed by our state government."

"The physical and emotional safety of our students is in the constant forethought of everyone associated with Dexter Schools," the superintendent confirms.

For the past three years, the local district's emergency plans have been under a review and updating process under the direction of former Asst. Supt. Bryce Matthews and current Asst. Supt. Dr. Roger Alsup. Alsup continues in the role, investigating procedures, options, and safety issues through ongoing discussions alongside both state and local law enforcement.

While tornado and fire drills have been commonplace in public schools for decades, students also regularly participate these days in intruder drills. Once innocent six-year-olds today realize the reason why they are required to "practice" staying safe should they ever be faced with someone in their midst who wishes to do them harm.

While the intruder drills are expected to prepare students and staff as to a direction to take should the worst case scenario occur, there is much more to be done, says Sharp.

Security cameras are in operation all across the Dexter district, with additional ones under consideration. Their implementation has viewed by some as a violation of privacy.

"Today," Sharp says, "even more stringent measures are being investigated and will be adopted as prevention measures continue to be explored."

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I guess you heard that the NRA came out with their recommendation today--arm your teachers!

I am curious about how that suggestion will go over in this region.

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Dec 21, 2012, at 2:14 PM

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