Academy to offer parents a look at school safety

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

JASPER — Greater Jasper School Resource Officer Jason Knies and Assistant Superintendent of Support Services and Transportation Glenn Buechlein have heard concerns that some of the corporation’s active shooter safety drills scare students.

The two men head up school safety for Greater Jasper Consolidated Schools, and while they understand concerns, they believe the drills are vital to keeping students safe. But they also want to educate parents about why the schools have the protocols they do and hear feedback. To reach that goal, the two are launching the GJCS Parent School Safety Academy, a new program that will offer parents an overview of the corporation’s safety protocols and the why behind them.

The two got the idea for the academy from David Woodward, director of student services at Carmel Clay Schools. Prior to joining Carmel Clay schools, Woodward was the director of the Indiana School Safety Specialists Academy, which trains educators to be school safety specialists.

“We were trying to reach out [to Woodward] and stay on the cutting edge in terms of school safety,” Buechlein said.

What they found is that Greater Jasper is up to date with its school safety practices. During the conversation, Woodward also shared about a parent academy he conducts in Carmel that has been successful.

That conversation led Knies and Buechlein to plan one for Greater Jasper’s parents. The event will be 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20, at Jasper High School. To participate, parents need to fill out a brief application in which they explain why they are interested in participating and verify they have children attending one of the corporation’s schools. To apply, parents should email Buechlein at gbuechlein@gjcs.k12.in.us.

During the event, parents will be briefed on the corporation’s main school safety protocols, including the ALICE Active Shooter Response Training — ALICE stands for alert, lock down, inform, counter and evacuate — and the “I Love U Guys” Foundation’s family reunification protocols. Information on both programs can be found online, but Buechlein said the academy will explain how the corporation applies the protocols.

“We want all the stakeholders to be informed,” he said. “We certainly don’t want anyone to be misinformed.”

He added that the presentations will not share any details of the school safety plans that could put students and staff at risk if they were made public.

The academy will also be a time for parents to share any concerns and feedback they may have. Specifically, Buechlein said, he’s heard concerns about the ALICE protocol teaching students how to counter a shooter. Buechlein explained that counter doesn’t necessarily mean rushing or attacking the shooter. According to the protocols, counter means creating a distraction to give students the opportunity to escape, and it’s a last resort. He added that he’s had students tell him they feel empowered after the ALICE training because they know what they can do to protect themselves.

Buechlein said he’s eager to hear feedback from participants — so far, about 12 parents have signed up to attend — but he also said that feedback won’t necessarily lead the corporation to change its protocols.

“I’m going to value the public’s feedback,” Buechlein said. “But it’s certainly our stance that what we do is valuable.”




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