Safety is Number One Priority: 2019-20

Safety is Number One Priority: New Measures for 2019-20
Posted on 09/09/2019
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picture of bearacade deviceAs another indication of the importance of safety, Lakota Local Schools has implemented new security measures throughout the district. 

“The safety of our students and staff is always our number one priority,” said Superintendent Matthew Miller. “Our plans are never complete. We are always working with our law enforcement partners to evaluate all of our safety measures in order to improve.”

During the summer, 1,200 Bearacade® Door Control Systems were installed in classrooms throughout the district. If a building activates a lockdown, the device is rapidly deployed by staff, preventing an intruder from entering a room. “The Bearacade® system is a time saver for our staff, should they ever be put in a dangerous situation,” said Miller. “The device deploys in three-to-eight seconds, securing the room quickly.” Local law enforcement and fire departments have been supportive of this additional safety measure.


The district has also upgraded its camera system at the main campuses of both Lakota East and West high schools. Planning has begun to upgrade the cameras at other secondary schools. “We plan for this work to start in the fall and it should be completed this school year,” Chief Operations Officer Chris Passarge said. “We will continue to upgrade systems at the primary buildings over the next few years.”

These additions follow other new safety measures introduced during the last school year. Lakota hired eight new school resources officers, bringing its total to 18 - one at each campus. It also implemented a new visitor management system called Raptor at each of its buildings. “We will continue to evaluate our safety protocols on a regular basis,” said Miller. The District Safety Committee, which meets on a regular basis, includes district administrators, school board members, first responders from both Liberty and West Chester townships and emergency management officials.

Another initiative that saw its rollout during the 2018-19 school year continues to expand. Lakota’s partnership with MindPeace connects the non-profit’s network of professional mental health providers with the district’s schools to increase student access to quality, affordable mental healthcare. Therapists are now available at 15 of Lakota’s 23 schools, with the expectation of being in every building by May. Over 200 students met with counselors last year. “The safety and well-being of our students is a top priority,” said Lauren Brown, Lakota’s Manager of Health Care Services. “And strong mental health plays a vital role in a student's growth and success. A student who is struggling with stress, anxiety or other concerns cannot focus on school work.”

In addition to the implementation of these safety measures, members of Lakota’s administration participated in a full-scale county-wide safety drill, held at Ross Local Schools, in June. During the simulation, facilitated by the Butler County Educational Service Center, the scenario portrayed the Lakota East men’s soccer team and spectators on site for a regional tournament while an active shooter infiltrated a Ross school board meeting. “This was an opportunity for Lakota administrators to test our safety protocols in a situation outside of our schools,” said Miller. “The BCESC did an excellent job putting us all to the test.”