ENID, Okla. —
School security is a front-burner subject at schools in Oklahoma and nationwide in the wake of the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that claimed the lives of 20 students and six adults.
Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb formed the 23-member Oklahoma Commission on School Security to come up with ideas and recommendations to improve security at schools statewide. The commission, made up of law enforcement, school personnel, health care professionals and parents from across the state, will hold its final meeting Tuesday, ahead of the deadline for bills to be introduced in the Legislature.
Lamb said the commission has listened to presentations from experts in their fields.
“We’ve had a very thorough set of presenters,” Lamb said.
Presentations are followed by small-group discussion.
“Our goal is to come up with recommendations for the Legislature,” Lamb said.
Lamb said the commission has come up with about 40 recommendations so far. Some of them include professional development for school staff regarding bullying, reinstating Oklahoma Safe Call Program, standardizing crisis plans, improving counseling quality and disciplinary records, creating regional school security assessment teams, securing entryways with bulletproof glass and providing security training by qualified law enforcement.
Enid Public Schools
Shawn Hime, superintendent of Enid Public Schools, said the heart of school security is the on-site safe school committees that monitor the security of each building.
“They know what’s best for their school site,” Hime said.
Each and every door, both interior and exterior, in Enid schools has a new lock mechanism as part of the districtwide renovation project, Hime said.
Schools also have regular lockdown drills and have had law enforcement officials come perform drills as well.
Hime said the district is looking forward to hearing the final recommendations of Oklahoma Commission on School Security.
“Pending the outcome of Lt. Gov. Lamb’s committee, we are once again looking at our buildings, seeing what we can do to make our buildings safer,” Hime said.
Hime noted students don’t learn well if they believe they are not safe at school.
“The number one thing for an effective school is the students feeling safe and secure,” Hime said. “That’s what we are striving for is to get to that point.”
Hime added anyone interested in school security can get involved in the issue.
“I encourage anyone interested in this topic to talk to your child’s principal and volunteer to be part of the safe school committee,” Hime said.
Another issue regarding school security is the availability of counseling services for students who need it, Hime said.
“I think that’s a huge piece of this,” Hime said. “We not only have school counselors at every school site but we have an agreement with Youth and Family Services to provide help with any counseling our students need.”