With new entrance procedures, an online reporting system for threats, and training for students and staff, schools in the Catholic Diocese of Toledo are beefing up security measures and reviewing policies in response to the shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Some schools have made their entrances more secure by locking doors, while others have added or upgraded security cameras, said Frank DiLallo, prevention and intervention specialist for the diocese. Schools also have in place training for students and staff about emergency responses and procedures for how to prevent and respond to bullying.
A new tool in place is TIPS — Threat Assessment, Incident Management, and Prevention Services — an online system for students and parents to report, anonymously if they choose, incidents of bullying, threats, or other suspicious behavior within schools. Each school has a TIPS page on its Web site, with reports sent to school and diocese officials.
About two dozen tips have been reported using the system, Mr. DiLallo said. Most have been filed by parents, and about half have reported bullying complaints.
Diocese officials used a news conference Friday at St. Patrick of Heatherdowns Elementary School to detail the new measures and other steps schools take to ensure safety.
Mr. DiLallo described six steps the diocese has taken, including the creation of an anti-bullying policy, the TIPS system, school safety plans, safety drills for students, training for staff, and the new building security measures.
“All of these efforts have culminated into unified diocesan-wide steps that we believe will ensure our schools’ existing safety and build on the longstanding confidence of our students, families, administration, teachers, staff and the communities in which they serve,” Mr. DiLallo said.
That confidence is especially important for students, St. Patrick’s Principal Debora O’Shea said.
“Kids are not learning when they don’t feel safe,” she said.
Among a quartet of St. Patrick eighth-graders, at least, there was a general sense of security in their school. Staff members make them feel safe, said Annie Hunter, 13, as friends Sarah Ohlinger and Sophia Schroeder nodded. Even the Newtown tragedy didn’t make them worry about coming to school.
“When it happened, I was worried,” Hannah Bluhm, 13, said. “But then I realized [school officials] were doing all they can to keep us safe.”
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