School district implements new safety protocol
Aidan Janssen, Reporter & Designer
The school district has recently begun training for a new protocol focused on dealing with potentially dangerous students who may commit violent acts against other students, teachers, the community, or themselves.
Previously, the three schools within the district had informal ways of dealing with potentially dangerous students. Using his experience with organizational response, new superintendent Slade McSheehy constructed a response team of school district employees and created a protocol. The team will be trained on the protocol, giving the whole staff a better understanding of how to handle a potentially dangerous situation.
This training is now being implemented by school administrators, including high school principal Danny Rock, in a step towards increased school safety.
“This represents, I think, a good and appropriate tightening up of how we respond to student, parent, or staff concerns around safety,” Rock said.
The purpose of the protocol is to outline how staff should react when they receive a report of a student feeling unsafe due to a peer’s actions. [See front-page story on the staff’s response to a threat on Wednesday, November 14.]
This protocol is comprised of a two-level process The first part is to do everything that can be done locally, such as connecting with the involved parties in the school, as well as with the students and family for information.
If the problem persists after this first stage and safety is still a concern, the second step takes place. This involves procuring the assistance of outside agencies.
While the protocol may be new to Vashon, it has been successfully used in other schools for several years.
“We are cooperatively adopting this protocol that was pulled from a school district in Oregon,” Rock said. “[The protocol was] created 10 to 12 years ago. All the schools in Clark County have been using this protocol for the last eight years.”
The students share a role in this new protocol. If they witness an incident that threatens the safety of either themselves or another student, they are encouraged to use the school website’s anonymous report system.
Rock was quick to mention that while the safety protocol is being strengthened, it is not due to a new or specific incident. Rather, it is a result of needing to make logical improvements and increase the role of students in school safety.
“We are getting a better system, and we ourselves are being trained how to coordinate our response better,” Rock said. “Our entire community has a role to play in helping keep our school safe, and the role of the students is to report and not be scared into silence.”
While few measures can guarantee a 100-percent success rate, Rock is confident this new protocol will increase school safety.
“We have done the deep analysis, and we’ve worked with community agencies, and we’ve worked with the families and have gone through the protocol,” Rock said. “Right now there is no student or situation that we feel we can’t manage safely in the building.”