POMEROY — A concerned parent addressed Meigs Local School Board members and Superintendent Scot Gheen at the recent regularly scheduled school board meeting to discuss safety procedures at Meigs Local Schools.
Teresa Shiflet stated, “I think as parents we’re all concerned with the recent school shootings, so I think maybe there should be a dialogue between the parents and the board as to what kind of security measures are in place at our schools right now…the students, if there is an active threat, what do they do, have they been trained on where to go, and what to do.”
Gheen explained the first goal of security the school system would like to set is have students and staff knowledgeable in A.L.I.C.E (Alert. Lockdown. Inform. Counter. Evacuate) training. He shared the staff recently had their A.L.I.C.E training and it went well. Gheen explained the next goal of security would be to debrief the staff, then train the students. Also, he would like to instill pod training.
Gheen explained there are approximately 80 cameras within the Meigs Local Schools with 48 being at the high school, 15 being at the middle school, and between 15 to 20 at the elementary schools which are continually monitored by the administration and secretaries. He said visitors of the school must be buzzed inside and the visitor must explain why are they are visiting the school. Gheen explained the doors are primarily always locked and encouraged individuals to alert the administration or staff at the school if a problem is seen with the doors staying closed and locked.
Gheen explained he has incorporated School Resource Officers (SRO) into the schools. He said he currently has two SROs and each one is monitoring the schools three to five times a week. Gheen explained the school system has a grant of $24,000 to $25,000 to help pay for the cost.
Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood commented he has further ideas for the SROs and had a discussion with the superintendents of the local schools on Wednesday morning (yesterday). Wood shared one issue is the sheriff’s office already has a small staff as is and at times the SROs have to get called away from the schools to respond to other calls within the county.
Gheen explained the administration and staff utilize NaviGate which is a program database that houses information such as the blue prints of the school buildings, safety plans, and emergency contacts. He said the sheriff’s office is connected to the NaviGate system as well. Gheen explained the administration and staff also utilize the Multi- Agency Radio Communication Network (MARCS) radio system. He said the devices are inside their offices as hand helds and permanent buttons. If an alert goes out, the alert goes to the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office, Meigs County EMA, Meigs County EMS, as well as the Eastern and Southern Local schools to alert them of Meigs Local going into lockdown. Gheen explained the staff has go-bags in case of an emergency containing items such as rosters and emergency medical forms.
Shiflet inquired how parents can be of assistance to the administration and staff of the school system.
Gheen responded that having parent volunteers monitoring the school during the day would be helpful, but the volunteers would need to abide by certain safety protocols, such as getting a background check.
Gheen explained 95 percent of the trouble is started via social media. He shared the administration and staff at Meigs Local are operating under a zero tolerance policy. Gheen said if a student is caught posting threats via social media, the case will be reported to the sheriff’s office.
Gheen stated, “See something, say something, we have to get that across to our kids. See something, say something to us, say something to your coach, say something to your band director, say something to your teacher, say something to your principal, say something to your parent.”
Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.