After a rash of gang activity, bomb threats and the shooting at Van Buren Elementary within the past two years, the security problems within the corporation have been brought to the public's attention.
The question is, do Clay Community Schools have the necessary security measures in place to keep up with today's societal issues?
Experts from outside of the corporation and concerned parties from within have tried to answer that question, as well as the secondary questions that follow.
The first part of answering the security question at schools is to understand what law mandates.
In 1999, the Indiana General Assembly passed law IC 5-2-10.1-9, requiring a trained school safety specialist in every corporation. To be certified as a safety specialist, basic and continuing advanced training is required.
The role of the school safety specialist is to serve on the county school safety commission, develop a safety plan for the corporation and be a resource and trainer for corporation staff, according to a brochure published by the Indiana School Safety Specialist Academy.
Lynn Stoelting, a school nurse at Forest Park and Jackson Township Elementary Schools, has been serving as the Clay Community school safety specialist.
Local law enforcement, parents, teachers, administrators and custodial staff make up the countywide and school-specific school safety committees. Lawmakers also established this committee.
The second component to understand is the difference between security and safety within school facilities.
Safety is the umbrella that security falls under. According to the Safety Specialist Academy's website, safety specialists are concerned with, in addition to security, issues such as disaster planning, bullying, pandemic flu, mental health, building mold and student conduct.
Security of a school corporation deals with preventing outside incidents from entering a building, and protecting students from internal incidents.
Rural school communities are not immune to security threats, as has been apparent in recent years.
Within the schools, bomb threats have been prevalent.
Northview High School had threats called or recently sent in on three separate occasions: Aug. 31, 2006, Sept. 7, 2006 and Nov. 26, 2007. North Clay Middle School had a threat called in on May 1, 2007.
Every bomb threat is treated as real, and requires evacuations and help from local authorities.
The school corporation has also dealt with a 'kill list' made by a student in 2004 at Clay City Elementary.
Northview has also dealt with gang activity, including panic-inducing rumors about weapons in schools.
Outside threats to security have also been prevalent.
Most recently, Van Buren Elementary School was shot at several times on Oct. 18.
Northview has discovered unauthorized visitors in the hallways and lunchroom.
During a standoff on US 40 in Sept. 2006, students at Staunton Elementary School and North Clay were not allowed to leave the building on buses. Parents were required to come pick students up.
Elementary schools are also vulnerable to non-custodial parent issues, with Jackson Township going into lockdown last school year during one such incident.
Security issues do not discriminate by age or geography; all schools are vulnerable.
The Brazil Times will explore in a series of articles what action has been taken to protect the students, what still needs to be done, the cost will be of ensuring student security and the plan of action taken by school corporation officials.