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Director talks about school safety

There was talk about students’ safety – and the continuing work of district officials – during the August Farmington School Board meeting.

John Krause is the safety director for the district. During the meeting, he gave an update to the board on the safety program, as well as the emergency response and intervention plan program evaluation.

Krause told the board all staff are undergoing training – some held prior to the start of the school year, with others scheduled during upcoming professional development programs.

In addition, Krause said each building has a “de-escalation team” – a team of five from each building trained in a specific program.

He took the meeting time to speak about the safety committee, made up of one or two staff members from each building working with administrators – taking on the responsibilities such as training safety drill days.

“The other piece of that is they update the (safety) plans for their building,” he said. “If we would have an incident … they have more knowledge about what (the district’s) safety plans are and are put on the incident command team, directly responsible for obtaining information during an event and feeding that information to the incident commander.”

He also demonstrated for the board the new, secure online area for the district to obtain needed forms and information for the safety procedures of the district – with the information available in easy access for student follow-ups and other referrals.

Board President Angie Hahn asked Krause about the possibility of establishing an anonymous tip line for the district.

Krause said he and Andy White, director of technology, looked at the program put in place by the Rolla School District.

She also asked Krause about the follow-up procedures on risk-assessment referrals made to the district personnel.

Krause and School Resource Officer Sgt. Sam Weekley were trained in the Virginia Model for Student Threat Assessment.

According to the National Association of School Psychologists, the Virginia Model for Student Threat Assessment is a “set of guidelines for school administrators to use in responding to a reported student threat of violence. School authorities navigate through a decision tree process of investigation and efforts to resolve the conflict or problem that precipitated the threat.”

Through the assessment, an administrator contacts Krause regarding any student making a threat or with a pattern of behaviors determined to be a risk to themselves or others.

“Depending on the age, depending on if (the administrator) is available – either the administrator sits in with me or I interview (the student) myself – it’s a basic set of questions,” he said. “Usually, there are a lot of times those kids want to talk and we expand out from there … and determine what we have.”

Most of the times, Krause said, it’s a student socially or emotionally not up to par and speaking out in the event of conflict.

From the initial interview, Krause said there may be interviews with other students, family, and computer checks.

“Ultimately, if we think they are a risk at all – even if it’s a little risk – we’ll sit down as a team,” he said. “So, it’s the social worker, the counselor, myself, the administrator, (special services personnel) for an IEP student. Depending on if we think it is a legal issue right now or … to get the (School Resource Officer) involved and then we come up with a plan. How are we going to best support this student?”

He said this program shows there is a reason for students to exhibit behaviors considered out of the norm.

“It could just be (on the elementary level) they need social stories and help through it,” he said. “Or, it could be there is a deeper need there, so if it resulted in a support plan with behaviors … it could result in a safety plan (or work with therapeutic agencies outside the school district.)

“Basically, what we’re looking at – looking at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – if those students don’t feel socially and emotionally well-adjusted, they don’t feel like they belong – they’re going to act out in a way and, if we don’t meet those needs, we’re not going to keep kids safe and we’re setting them up for a poor experience.

“It all fits hand in hand … it’s not fool-proof, but it’s more likely when we have a more uniform process we’re much less likely to miss something.”

Also during the meeting, White, Innovation and Communications Director Mindy Southern, and Instructional Practices Coordinator Allyson Hensley highlighted the updated district website for the board.

White said work on the new website began in early July, with the decision being made to go with an outside hosting site instead of internal – mostly for security reasons.

“Around July, we made the changeover to the new website,” White said, noting highlights include the customized design unique to the district and content managing system allowing staff to add and create their own content to their pages.

White said he believed the most important update was the functionality between desktop and mobile, along with ADA-compliant functionalities added.

Southern and Hensley demonstrated the theme – “Window to the World” – as a way to introduce the new website, noting there have been more than 12,000 visitors to the site since the beginning of the month.

“We have a lot of people visiting,” Southern said. “We find out – as we’re doing interviews and move into our area – the first place people go is to our website to learn about our school district.”

Southern expressed her appreciation to Chuck Sitzes for his assistance in the photographs used for the website.

“It was time for us to look at the website and kind of revamp and overhaul,” Ruble said, acknowledging the work of the technology team to update the site to make it more user-friendly for the community and staff.

The new website also implements the social media platforms used by the district to communicate with the community.

John Krause, left, gives an update on the safety program for the Farmington School District during the meeting on Tuesday. Krause is the director of safety for the district. 

John Krause, left, gives an update on the safety program for the Farmington School District during the meeting on Tuesday. Krause is the director of safety for the district. 

Shawnna Robinson is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3628 or srobinson@farmingtonpressonline.com

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