Community weigh in on safety at WLS

Community weigh in on safety at WLS
(Source: WTOL)

. - After safety incidents within the Washington Local School District, leaders are stepping up to ensure your students are safe at school.

Parents, students and staff came together to create a more secure future Tuesday.

Dr. Susan Hayward, superintendent of Washington Local Schools, said Tuesday's meeting at Whitmer High School was an important one addressed their top concern, student safety.  She said this conversation is just beginning.

"Safety is the single most important thing that we do in our school district," explained Dr. Hayward.

District leaders brought together stakeholders Tuesday night to talk about school safety and security. Together they were able to ask questions and work towards solutions.

"What are your guys' plans to get these buildings more secure?" asked one man in the audience.

"What does the school system do for after an incident happens for counseling?" questioned one mother who said her student was scared to return to school after threats made online.

"We need to get them (young children) help and recognize their issues now," stated a woman in the crowd.

Washington Local leaders explained they're having these discussions regularly with staff, their board and students. They plan to will create a safety and security committee where they will evaluate solutions and make decisions for action.

"We will begin the process of making decision on what we need to do to be better at the safety and security of our staff and students," said Superintendent Dr. Susan Hayward.

Some parents Tuesday praised the district for how they've had a plan and handled previous threats within the district.

"We were able to get some really good information from them and I think it was great," said Jason Mims, a WLS father.

"It calmed our nerves," added Katy Mims.

Others came wanting answers to how they'd insure security during a national walkout on Wednesday and parents saying they were never notified.

"If they want to protest, do it after school," said Tom Jenkins who has a freshman at Whitmer. "And even that, is that going to be a secure environment having a large group of kids?"

"The walkout is ridiculous and we will not let our child participate," added Terri Jenkins.

District leaders say students planned the event and will be monitored. They plan to walk to the football field and create a heart around the panther and send a photo of their efforts to Parkland students.

Dr. Hayward explained students were not doing it as a protest, but a sign of compassion for what students in Parkland have gone through. Another part of WLS safety meeting was hands on Alice Training. Something parents were grateful to see in real life.

"The kids have said things to me, (about ALICE training) but when I try to have them like reenact it to me and tell me what they mean they have just little fragments of what they learned," explained Katy Mims, a mother of a 2nd and 5th grader at WLS. "I'm glad to get it myself so we can talk about it more so it's more information for me to parent them better."

Parents were able to leave their suggestions on how the district could create a safer future for students topics included training, school facilities, communication and others.

Leaders within the WLS district said this will be an ongoing conversation with the community as they work to find out what is best for their students.

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