SCSD No. 2 Discusses School Safety Following Recent Potential Threat

SCSD No. 2 Discusses School Safety Following Recent Potential Threat

GREEN RIVER — Following the potential student-made threat last week at Green River High School, Sweetwater County School District (SCSD) No. 2 went over its school safety protocols at the school board meeting Tuesday night.

Superintendent Craig Barringer, Human Resource Director and Assistant Superintendent Jason Fuss, and Special Education Director and Assistant Superintendent Alan Demaret went over school safety, all the way from the culture of the school to communication with stakeholders in the event of threats to safety.

Fuss said that it is massively important for the school to have a healthy climate that encourages students and staff to report any concerns they have.

Advertisement - Story continues below...

“It’s so important to our organization that our students and our staff and adults feel safe to talk to others about something that may be brewing in the background,” Fuss said.

He said research has shown that teachers are the number one resource for students to report concerns. Parents are the next resource, followed by principals, councilors, then the Student Resource Officer (SRO), and lastly a coach. Fuss said this means all adults need to be present and pay attention so students feel safe and comfortable when reporting something.

“It all ties into culture and our students and people feeling safe that they can make some reports,” Fuss said. 

Fuss said the school takes different measures to deal with bullying and cyberbullying, cybersecurity, targeted violence, and emergency planning. He said bullying and cyberbullying tie right into emotional health, so it is a priority to address those cases as soon as they become known to them.

To deal with targeted violence, staff learns different drills such as hold drills and lockdowns, and they have buzzers to get into the schools and SROs. Fuss also said the district is looking at getting key fobs to secure the doors automatically and pull the gates down to seclude threatening people in certain areas of the buildings. 

He said 90 percent of the time threats are made by students; and over 50 to 60 percent of the time that student has informed at least someone of their plans. Therefore, a culture for safe reporting is a top priority.

With cybersecurity, the district has programs in place on the internet network to catch phishing scams and predators.

“We’ve really got to be aware of the phishing, the inappropriate applications, and the predators online through our cybersecurity saying they’re someone else,” Fuss said.

Our number one priority is the safety of children and staff and it is always going to be that.

-Jason Fuss, HR Director/Assistant Superintendent

Focus on Emotional Wellbeing

Demaret said the pandemic and other outside factors all the way from the national to local levels have an effect on students, staff, parents, and everyone in the community’s emotional health.

He said people are experiencing anxiety, stress, and they are tired and angry.

“They impact everyone differently and that’s what emotions do,” Demaret said. “Our needs have evolved and the things we have put into place over the years sometimes need to be reviewed and need to be reflected on.”

“Our students are coming to us with significantly more diagnoses of anxiety, depression, some are related to these external factors, some are related to trauma,” he added.

He said students are leading the way in reporting emotional concerns they have for themselves and their fellow students. There are several different methods for students to report and take steps to help themselves and each other such as Safe to Tell, Cyber Squad, and Hope Squad, which is a student-led program that supports fellow students.

Demaret said there are two sides to students reporting these things to staff members.

“On one hand we’re really excited that that student took the risk to tell us… yet on the other hand, we don’t want these incidents to occur,” Demaret said.

Responding to Potential Threats

When the district faces certain threats, such as the one they had recently at Green River High School, there are certain protocols they follow. Demaret said that while they are always working to improve their response, the method for dealing with these threats is something they cannot mess up.

“This is one area where we can’t get it wrong,” Demaret said. 

He said the district is aware that they need to improve communication with all stakeholders, which was shown through this most recent incident.

However, the standard protocol for responding to potential threats is as follows:

  • Contact the Green River Police Department (GRPD).
  • Locate the potential threat or danger.
  • Coordinate with GRPD to conduct any interviews, searches, and other necessary actions.
  • Local police will conduct a home search and parent interviews. Further investigations outside of the school district will be handled by the GRPD.
  • As the potential threat or danger is identified and any imminent danger is ruled out, a trained school psychologist will complete a threat/risk assessment and thorough review of educational records to determine any and all necessary actions which may be necessary moving forward.
  • As information is collected and analyzed, student(s) will face any disciplinary action, which may include expulsion from school. Support and services may also be explored if necessary.

Demaret noted that there are two sides to these incidents, which includes addressing the needs of all students involved. That means providing support and addressing needs of students who were impacted, but also addressing the needs of the student who presented the danger.

We care about your child just as much as we care about our own. That’s our responsibility.

-Alan Demaret, SPED Director/Assistant Superintendent

Ensuring Issues Are Handled Properly

Barringer said that to ensure any threats or dangers are responded to and handled properly, the district meets after these incidents and discusses what they need to do differently next time.

Like Fuss, Barringer also noted that culture is the most important part in preventing threats and reporting threats that do happen. He said there is a huge need right away to address some emotional and social issues and things that have to be changed in the culture of the schools. 

“A curriculum is not going to address the situation,” Barringer said.

He added that the district meets with the GRPD monthly to go over trainings and how to deal with certain issues.

“It is a great lesson for us they have insight that we don’t,” he said.