Participants in a school safety workshop in Hartselle on Monday (L to R) were Police Chief Ron Puckett, Superintendent Mike Reed, Education Specialist Jim Toney, School Safety Director Jerry Reeves and Fire Chief Steve Shelton. | Clif Knight

Archived Story

Focusing on protecting students

Published 8:49am Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Safety is on the front burner of Hartselle City Schools this week in the wake of the massacre that took the lives of 20 students and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut recently.

A three-hour school safety workshop was conducted at the central office on Monday under the guidance of Jerry Reeves, director of safety for Hartselle City Schools. Presentations were made by Jim Toney, an education specialist in student discipline and safety for the Alabama Department of Education.

Toney spoke on subjects ranging from bullying and harassment to student suicide and safety hazards. He also gave a review of the Instant Command System (ICS), a federally mandated school safety plan developed by Homeland Security.

“In the event of a natural disaster such as a tornado, you may not be able to obtain reimbursement for damage to school property unless your school safety plan is in compliance with ICS,” Toney said. “However, the quality of the plan you have in place is up to you.”

“Toney encouraged school administrators and school safety leaders to walk through buildings and over school grounds carefully with the idea of spotting potential hazards.

“Something dangerous may be overlooked time and again by those who are used to seeing it, while a fresh pair of eyes can detect its danger on sight,” he pointed out.

He also stressed that emergency planning should be proactive, enabling schools to reduce the frequency and magnitude of emergencies and to respond faster and appropriately.

Reeves said the workshop was planned to help the school system develop a safety plan that’s consistent with ICS guidelines.

Workshop participants included central office staff, school administrators and emergency response personnel.

The eight steps involved in developing an ICS school safety plan were listed as follows:

•Establish a school safety planning committee

•Introduce a statement of commitment to individual school safety

•Identification of hazards

•Analysis of identified hazards

•Define incident command system roles

•Provide an emergency telephone

•List materials and equipment

•Improve and make corrections to existing safety plans

•Provides basic resources needed

•Provide training and implement exercises

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