Staff Brief Wenatchee School Board on State of Security
The Wenatchee School Board was recently briefed on the state of the district's security system and student intervention tools.
Executive Director of Technology and Safety Ron Brown told the board that in the wake of recent events it was important to give the board and community perspective on the district's preparedness.
"(School) is the safest place to send your kids." Brown said, "I'm confident in saying that and I'm confident our staff can say that."
Brown claims the district is in a fortunate position in terms of preparedness.
Safety and Security Coordinator Tom Couey pointed to a 2021 study on school safety by the Department of Homeland Security's National Threat Assessment Center.
"I'm happy to say that all of the recommendations contained in this paper we have instituted, and have instituted, since before this paper happened," said Couey.
Couey outlined several layers of protection during his presentation to the board. He suggested the district continue to "smart harden" the vulnerability of its schools. Those types of protections include fencing, access controls, security cameras, web and email monitoring, and emergency communication systems.
Couey also spoke about the importance of the district's culture in preventing school shootings. If a student feels accepted, they are much less likely to turn to violence when dealing with personal issues. Staff that use individual intervention plans also play a big role in keeping a student from turning to violence.
Couey said students also need to feel empowered to tell staff when they see something going wrong. The district has set up the Vector Alert reporting system so students can remain anonymous.
School Resources Officers (SRO) were also a focal point of the meeting. Couey claims that in all cases were a school shooting was averted, an SRO was the difference about 33% of the time.
The district currently has two SROs that shift from building to building. Their role has been classified as more reactive than proactive because of the volume of issues they are asked to respond to on a daily basis.
Brown added that while having two SROs has been a great boost to the district's security, it's likely he will ask for more officers in the future. Moses Lake School District, which is similar in size to Wenatchee, has four SROs by comparison.