Local schools focus on physical security, relationships with kids

Thousands of local K-12 students went to school on Wednesday just hours after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in a classroom at Robb Elementary School in Texas. Those Miami Valley students were not unprotected.

Local schools have been increasing building security since 2012, when a shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School killed 28 people, including 20 children, and left six people injured. There’s also more knowledge of social and emotional needs for kids than 10 years ago.

“I think we just have to keep going back to doing what we know to do and what we have the control to work over, which is first and foremost building positive relationships with our kids,” said Ben Richards, superintendent of Valley View schools. “And I think that’s something that we can do.”

Richards said there was an increased police presence at Valley View Wednesday, and the district asked teachers to be in the hallways more.

Chad Wyen, superintendent at Mad River Local Schools, said he’d made calls to state representatives today, asking them to support House Bill 99, which would allow registered people to be armed in a school zone.

ExplorePrevious: Schools have hardened against threat of attacks

Mad River schools have had a response team of around 30 people picked by the superintendent and the head of HR, in collaboration with law enforcement. That team had the ability to access locked-away firearms in case of an emergency. But Wyen said the response team is on pause due to an Ohio Supreme Court ruling in 2021.

“We’re still training even though we can’t have firearms in our buildings right now, with the foresight of we’re going to hopefully be able to implement this again in the future,” Wyen said.

Chris Piper, Troy Schools superintendent, said the district has been focusing more on preventing school shootings while he’s worked there the last four years.

“It’s something you constantly worry about,” Piper said. “They are, you know, statistically rare, but still far too frequent.”

Superintendent Paula Crew of Tecumseh Local Schools in Clark County said the district had extra police presence today. Recently, the district trained teachers and staff on what to do in case of a school shooting, including showing teachers how to make tourniquets, she said.

“Although we certainly pray we will not need to use any of this training in the future, we also recognize that the world is a different place,” Crew said. “It is our responsibility to provide the necessary training and resources to our staff, and when appropriate to our students, to ensure we have the systems, training, and resources in place to maximize the safety of our students and staff.”

ExploreExperts say school safety requires multilayered approach

At least two districts, Springboro and Centerville, sent out a mass email to parents, reassuring them of safety precautions.

“Yesterday’s events in Uvalde, Texas, have left us reeling,” Centerville City Schools Superintendent Tom Henderson said in the email. “Once again, an individual’s violent actions inside a school building have taken the lives of innocent students and staff members. I want to assure you that the safety and security of our students and staff remains a priority for Centerville Schools.”

Henderson listed many precautions that included dedicated school resource officers, drills, locking doors and windows, requiring visitors to buzz into the school, mental health resources and others.

Springboro Schools listed similar precautions in an email to parents.

“Springboro Schools would like to assure you that we take the safety and security of our students, staff, and volunteers very seriously,” the district said in a release. “We commit, through regular and ongoing training, to ensure that our schools are places where students can learn and grow, free from concerns about safety.”

Staff writer Brooke Spurlock and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

About the Author