Indiana News

Officials come together to discuss school safety in Indiana

Keeping your children safe in school was the name of the game Tuesday when some of Indiana’s top educators gathered together in one room.

They were there to talk school safety and security.

Ideas and topics tossed around came on the heels of tragic school shootings in the United States. Indiana education leaders tried to hash out tangible solutions.

Jennifer McCormick, the state superintendent of public instruction, said, “My fear is I’ve been in some schools where we’ll talk to kids, we’ll talk to educators, and they’re like ‘We don’t run drills.’ That’s very concerning if something happens and you’ve not practiced it.”

Which is why she wants all schools to be part of Indiana’s School Safety Training Academy.

Rep. Susan Brooks, a Republiacn, said, “I would strongly encourage them because this is free training for them.”

Started in 1999, Indiana’s School Safety Training Academy gives educators training in emergency preparedness, school security and similar matters.

Brooks said, “I’d really like to try to take the lessons they’ve learned, the type of training they’ve provided and possibly expand that as a model in the country.”

McCormick said, by law, only public schools’ officials are required to attend. McCormick met with state lawmakers Tuesday to talk about the program.

She said, “Making sure we’re running drills. Making sure we’re participating in the school safety academy, having a school safety specialist on campus. All those items are free per se. I know time is not free and you have to hire folks to do it. We’re not talking a lot of additional dollars”

So, for schools in the program, where is the money going to come from?

McCormick said, “They need people. So, school resource officers who are trained, school law enforcement. That’s a big conversation right now. Also, the conversation about equipment … whether it’s panic buttons or cameras, apps for different safety measures.”

She said money is somewhere.

McCormick said, “A lot of those things are quite pricey, so some of our districts that are struggling financially; it can be a real struggle. But, that’s where some of the grants and being aggressive and saying ‘We’re going to go after every bit of money that we can from the federal level and certainly from the state.’”

Brooks said Indiana schools are focusing on mental health training and resources in schools, but Indiana’s youth suicide rate surprised her. McCormick said they’re working hard to address those things, too.

Lawmakers tried to get some school safety bills passed in the session that recently ended, but, McCormick said, the conversation about school safety is going to have to go into 2019 session.