Educators and administrators put safety at school very high on their priority lists, but incidents of student violence still occur.
Recently, a 14-year-old freshman in Cleveland shot students and teachers, and then took his own life.
In response to events like what happened in Cleveland and Columbine, Colo., the Clay Community Schools have taken extra steps to prevent similar shootings.
Northview High School has had a “no backpacks” rule in place for this year to prevent weapons being brought into the building.
The rule was instituted after a student brought alcohol and an undisclosed weapon to school last spring.
North Clay Middle School implemented the no backpack rule a few years ago because of similar concerns, and Clay City Jr./Sr. High School has had the rule in place with the original intent of clearing space in the classrooms.
Northview Principal Tim Rayle said that, especially after incidents like the Cleveland shootings, teachers and staff have increased their awareness of who is in the building.
Visitors without the building’s visitor pass are directed to the office, where administrators approach them as to why they are there.
Rayle said “99 times out of 100” it is a visitor dropping off something who just forgot to sign in.
Rayle is also aware that “anybody who wants to get into a school to do harm will find a way.”
Clay City has emergency flip charts in every classroom so teachers have a plan and are all on the same page during a crisis.
North Clay Principal Jeff Allen said that students were shown a video on lockdown procedure this week, and will be doing a lockdown drill very soon.
In July, legislation passed requiring all schools to have a lockdown drill once a year.
Although most school shootings have happened at the high school level, Allen said, “I don’t know that age dictates safety concerns.”
Another prevention method is making sure the students are getting the attention they need.
“In terms of (the Cleveland incident), there were so many red flags,” Clay City Jr./Sr. High School Principal Jeff Bell said.
Rayle said there are three guidance counselors in the school who are trained to assist students through difficult times.
Teachers and staff can refer students to the guidance counselors if they feel the student needs assistance.
If the student’s needs are beyond the training of the guidance staff, they will contact an outside professional as well as alert the parents of the student to their concerns.
Bell says that the smaller school population of Clay City helps foster a close-knit community and encourages shared ownership of the school.
Clay City has two full-time counselors, as well as a liaison from Hamilton Center, Inc.
Bell said he’s had parents request counseling for their children as well as school referral. Counselors are not the only staff prepared to handle security and safety issues.
“Every student knows that any adult in the building is available for safety concerns,” Allen said.
“We have an open-door policy with students and teachers,” Bell said.
Bell said every instance reported to teachers and administrators are looked into and investigated.
The entire Clay Community School Corporation is updating and implementing safety and security features through the Safe Schools Committee.
Corporation Nurse Lynn Stoelting gave a report on the buildings to the school board at the Oct. 11 meeting.