Goodwin releases school safety plan for W.Va.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin released his plan to keep West Virginia's schools safe Tuesday afternoon.
The agenda, a result of a February summit on safe schools called by Goodwin in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, outlines 10 points that could improve school safety.
"A lot of ideas were discussed, a lot of ideas have been discussed since, and this report is really kind of the culmination of those discussions," Goodwin said.
"And they're practical things, things that can be implemented mostly on a local level, because that's what is critical."
Goodwin is pushing schools and officials to:
* Establish a single, locked point of entry for every building.
* Install doors in classrooms that can be quickly locked, or keep the existing doors locked at all times.
* Install emergency buttons to broadcast emergencies and notify authorities.
* Explore shatter-resistant paneling for glass windows and doors.
* Place more law enforcement officers in schools in resource positions.
* Build established relationships between schools and law enforcement.
* Conduct regular active-shooter drills at least annually.
* Develop a statewide program to identify potentially violent students and intervene.
* Introduce anti-bullying programs in all of the state's schools.
* Implement a communication system to disseminate emergency information to parents and other schools in case of an incident.
Goodwin called these items "practical steps aimed at preventing school violence."
"These are items that can be and I am confident will be implemented on a local level," he said.
A few items on Goodwin's agenda are already being pursued in West Virginia Schools. The School Building Authority has been investigating the potential for putting a protective film in schools that would make doors shatterproof, for example.
In Kanawha County, administrators already are working to make sure all of the county's schools are accessible only through a single point that is being monitored by the central office.
Kanawha County, as well as a slew of other school systems across the state, also has a "school resource officer" program that places police in public schools.
Goodwin is just asking that those efforts be increased.
He also emphasized the point on annual active-shooter drills, likening them to other drills carried out in schools for emergencies that are just as unlikely as an active shooter situation.
"We haven't had a child killed by a fire in schools for 50 years, but we still do drills," Goodwin said. "We need to have that same vigor with school violence."
Several portions of the plan -- namely the anti-bullying and intervention portions -- are aimed at warding off school violence in the first place, and Goodwin said that is key. Nearly 75 percent of school violence can be tied directly to bullying.
Goodwin presented his recommendations at the state Department of Education's Office of Healthy Schools conference Tuesday afternoon.
Contact writer Shay Maunz at email@example.com or 304-348-4886.
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