Independence Local Schools Partners with City on Safety Presentation
On May 7, the Independence Local Schools partnered with the City of Independence police and fire departments for a safety presentation to school parents and residents to show the changes they will be making in response to possible intruders for the next school year. In attendance for the schools were Superintendent Steve Marlow, future-Superintendent and current Middle School Principal Ben Hegedish, High School Principal Bill McGuinness, and Primary School Principal Cindy Ipsaro. Representing the Police Department were Chief Michael Kilbane and Officer Brad Borowy, and representing the Fire Department were Chief Steve Rega, Firefighter Ielo (AY-eh-low), and Firefighter Reese.
The presentation was based largely on the new “ALICE” defense system. ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. “It provides a wide variety of responses, it gives options, and it gives the best chance to make the best use of that small amount of time between when the incident kicks off and when the police officers are there to get things under control,” said Chief Kilbane of the new policy. In addition to utilizing ALICE, the schools have locked doors, increased cameras in all buildings, and access to cameras in the offices of both the police and fire departments.
At the presentation, Chiefs Kilbane and Rega explained how each of their departments would contribute to help in an intrusive situation. “What we are trying to do now is give the tools to our building administrators and our principals to make decisions and have a whole menu of choices so they can make the decision, ‘What’s going to be the best in this set of circumstances,’” said Kilbane. Chief Rega also talked about some of the devices that help keep people safe in the classrooms. “There are a lot of devices out there that are being peddled in the market to lock doors, to keep your kids safe inside the classroom. However, there are several safety codes that must be followed and almost none of these gadgets comply with these codes,” said Rega.
Several people spoke about ALICE and other techniques to help keep the faculty and students at our schools safe. Officer Borowy said, “ALICE is going to increase the students’ awareness of a violent intrusive situation.” “When you’re on fire, we know that the three things that you do are ‘stop, drop, and roll.’ The ALICE system has a similar maxim of ‘run, hide, and fight,’’ shared Mr. Marlow with the audience.
Attendees of the presentation also learned about House Bill 178 and what that means for parents and students in the near future. “House Bill 178 indicates school evacuation drills and school safety drills which can include or should include different options that would fit with an ALICE framework. So this year, we’re encouraged, in fact, it’s in the law, that we will be doing these things,” said Mr. Hegedish. “Within the next week or so, we can expect a building-appropriate assembly in each of the three schools outlining the ideas of ALICE and the other things mentioned at this meeting. Students can also be expecting 1-2 drills this school year before summer vacation, starting with one ‘walk-through’ drill.” Mr. Hegedish is anticipating that by the end of next year, the district will have some simulations to help students practice for an attack. “It’s important to make sure that our kids will always be safe in the school environment, and this presentation ensured that there is a plan for action by our school administrators.”
Story written by Maddie Harper, freshman, Independence High School