School Safety Task Force Update
The Lower Merion School District has taken steps and precautions at all of our buildings in an effort to keep our students and staff safe. While specific details cannot be shared, I can identify some of the actions:
As a result of the School Safety Task Force that was convened in 2013 many recommendations were made and acted upon. These included:
- Significant security modifications to main entrances at BCMS, CES, PVES and PWES.
- Added security cameras and door access controls to BCMS, BHES, CES, GES, MES, PVES, PWES and WVMS. (HHS and LMHS already in place during construction).
- Added security fences and gates to BCMS, BHES, CES, MES including around recess areas.
- Improved loading dock and operations procedures at schools that were identified as areas of concern.
- Added visual aids for staff to look through locked doors
- Improved mobile phone reception for emergency communications at BCMS and PVES. (This is an area where work continues)
- The District's Emergency Operating Procedures were reviewed and revised. Moving forward the District is implementing a Multi-Hazard Operations Plan endorsed by Montgomery County School Safety Coordinator to be ready for the 2018-19 school year
In 2014 a presentation of armed intruder drills was given by Steve Beck, Montgomery County School Safety Coordinator and last year I increased the presence of the LM Police Department within our schools on a regular basis.
Our continued efforts include, but are not limited to,
- All schools conduct at least (3) lock-down drills per school year
- A series of presentations and drills being held within our District coordinated by the office of Montgomery County School Safety and the Lower Merion Police Department. One drill done in November, 2017 was a table top exercise with County Emergency Management and District Principals – this exercise allowed us to evaluate our emergency operations plan, review strengths and weaknesses, improve coordination and communications, and clarify roles and responsibilities.
- Ongoing training and drills are in place and our administrators have taken advantage of internal and external training. One of which included campus aides from both high schools and was presented by Dr. Peter Langman, an expert on the psychology of school shooters, titled "Inside the Minds of School Shooters" which focused on identifying people and situations.
- As I said, increasing police presence in our schools is an area that we have been working on. An already scheduled program on Tuesday, February 27 at 7:00 PM at Cynwyd Elementary titled "LMSD & Lower Merion Police Department - Community and School Collaboration" if for parents/ guardians and targets interaction at the elementary school level.
In closing it is important to add that the District continues its efforts to keep our schools safe in many ways including but not limited to:
- The Student Assisted Program "START" is a state required program in place that guarantees confidentiality and anonymity for students who report any suspicious behavior.
- Age appropriate programs are in place at each of our schools to help prepare students. The programs focus on helping students deal with conflict and target bullying, personal safety and self-advocacy. These programs build resiliency and assist in creating an emotionally stable population of students
- Review of safety procedures - many of you reached out about specific incidents that you have seen at a school – we appreciate all of your correspondence. Each situation has been reviewed by the principal ensuring these concerns are addressed.