Leadership magazine Sept/Oct 2018 V48 No. 1 - Page 22

Making Schools Safer: IT’S THE NEW NORMAL How one school district used a potential tragedy to build a holistic approach to assessing campus vulnerabilities and communications models. 22 Leadership On a beautiful, sunny October af- ternoon, after the hustle and bustle of a busy middle school lunch period, a 7th grade student that had gone home ill returned to school with his parent indicating that he felt better. Instead of going to class, however, he went to the restroom, put on a Halloween mask, and proceeded to knock on a class- room door requesting entrance. The student was let into the classroom and once in the classroom, he pulled out a loaded gun and pointed it at the students and the classroom teacher. Thinking it was not a real weapon, the students did not show fear and told the assailant to go ahead and use the weapon. At that precise moment, the classroom phone rang. It was the school office looking for another student. The call was enough to frighten the would-be assailant, preventing a potential tragedy. The masked student ran out of the classroom, across the campus and climbed the fence onto the street where he was eventually apprehended by the police department. The loaded firearm was located in his backpack. Unfortunately, situations such as this one have been happening across the country, many times with much more tragic endings, causing schools to be prepared for the un- thinkable. In the case of the Ontario-Mont- clair School District (OMSD), the district started the wheels in motion long before this incident. Nevertheless, it did not miss an opportunity to learn from this incident to help fine tune and improve the district’s emergency plans and protocols. The follow- ing steps are some that have been developed by OMSD in an effort to increase campus safety while continuing to demonstrate a welcoming community environment. 1. Assess the vulnerability of the campuses. Fully assess the access to the campus. Ei- ther professionally or through your mainte- nance department, identify the access points to the campus. Can unauthorized individu- als enter the school campus? How do parents and volunteers enter the campus? Are there areas on campus that cannot be fully seen or supervised? Over the years we evaluated each of our campuses and identified certain steps that made our campuses less vulner- able to entry. We identified entry points that By Marco Villegas