school safety

Corl Street Elementary, in State College, is receiving extensive renovations, all done with safety in mind.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

This story originally aired on March 21, 2019.

Martha Sherman has two kids at Mount Nittany Elementary School in State College. On a recent morning when she was dropping them off, office staff wouldn’t let her go beyond the front office. She wanted to walk her son Zane to his kindergarten class, but his school, like many others, has a safety policy that says parents can’t do that.

John Lovett, a retired police officer and the Saint Marys School District's school safety and security coordinator, reviews the school security cameras. They're one of the measures the school district has in place.
Anne Danahy / WPSU

This story originally aired on March 20, 2019.  

John Lovett is a retired police officer and the school safety and security coordinator at the Saint Marys Area School District.

It's a typical day at the high school in Elk County, Pennsylvania, and students stream down the halls during a break.

Lovett's job is helping keep the students safe. As part of that, he carries a taser and a gun. And he helps train the schools on what to do in an emergency, including a possible intruder.

Tiffany Myers reads a children's book out loud to a class of about 20 fifth graders. She said the idea is to teach the basics of mental wellbeing just like other school subjects.
Min Xian / WPSU

 

This story originally aired on March 19, 2019.  

On a recent school day at Mount Nittany Elementary School in State College, Tiffany Myers read a children's book out loud to a class of about 20 fifth graders.

“The story we’re going to read today is called, ‘Red: A Crayon’s Story.’ Just right off the bat, what are you noticing about this crayon that make it different than what you might expect?” Myers, a school counselor, asked.

John Zesiger, superintendent at the Moshannon Vally School District, says he makes drills more realistic by getting rid of the orderly lines and having some students not where they're supposed to be.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

This story originally aired on March 18, 2019.  

Moshannon Vally School District Superintendent John Zesiger said to make intruder drills more realistic they’ve added some complications. 

“We block exits,” Zesiger said. “We have some students who are not where they're supposed to be. So that the staff and the students have to kind of think on their feet and say, ‘Geez, here’s where I'm supposed to go out, but I can't get out that way.’ And they look for the next best option.”

The state has approved $40 million in grants for school districts to improve safety. These competitive grants are in addition to $25,000 that most districts received last year. Huntingdon Area School District is one of the districts receiving grants.
Courtesy of huntsd.org

The state has approved $40 million in grants for school districts to improve safety.

 

Over a dozen school districts in Central Pennsylvania received grants, including the Altoona Area School District, the Keystone Central School District and the Smethport Area School District. None of Centre County’s school district was awarded a competitive grant.

These competitive grants are in addition to $25,000 that most districts received last year.

Five people participating in panel discussion
Min Xian / WPSU

As part of the WPSU series on School Safety efforts in central Pennsylvania, we invited a group of parents, students and educators to discuss school safety, what it means and what we should be doing to get there.

Lori Bedell moderated the discussion. Bedell teaches rhetoric at Penn State and is part of Deliberation Nation, which guides students through discussions, and she serves on the State College Area school board.

The state has approved $40 million in grants for school districts to improve safety. These competitive grants are in addition to $25,000 that most districts received last year.
Min Xian / WPSU

A State College Area High School student brought a bullet to school on Wednesday and showed it to classmates. Although the high school’s resource officer found that no firearm was involved, a rumor of a gun in the school prompted a parent of another student to call 911, resulting in a 10-minute lockdown at the high school, according to the State College Area School District.

Parkland Shooting Survivor Draws Protestors

Jan 18, 2019
Gun rights activists held signs and waved flags.
David Tilli / WPSU

A group of about 18 Penn State students protested a talk by Parkland shooting survivor and “March for Our Lives” co-founder David Hogg. The gun control activist visited the University Park campus on Friday.

The protestors marched across downtown State College carrying both American and “Don’t Tread on Me” flags.

Aidan Mattis said he organized the event to protest both Hogg’s rhetoric and the lack of gun rights speakers in the Student Programming Association line up.

Students outside of high school
Min Xian / WPSU

Pennsylvania schools are getting ready for a new system for reporting concerns about safety or troubling behavior that's slated to go live across the state Jan. 14.

The state Attorney General’s office is implementing the anonymous reporting system — Safe2Say Something — with the organization Sandy Hook Promise. That nonprofit is led by families of students who were killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.

Tamaqua parent Rebecca Kowalski criticizes the school board's new policy that would authorize the training and arming of some teachers and staff.
Matt Smith for Keystone Crossroads

Nearly three hours into a special meeting about a policy that would ask some staff at the Tamaqua Area School District to carry guns, parent Liz Pinkey read aloud a letter from educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

They had written to the Pennsylvania State Senate last year, when lawmakers were debating a bill to allow personnel with concealed carry permits to be armed on school property.

Educators fire off rounds during a concealed carry class for teachers Sunday, June 10, 2018, at Adventure Tactical Training in Farmer City, Illinois.
David Proeber, The Pantagraph via AP

A school district near Allentown recently, and rather quietly, became Pennsylvania’s first to pass a policy permitting teachers to carry guns in schools.

But a backlash has since developed, setting up a showdown over the place of guns in Pennsylvania schools that could set statewide precedent.

Over two dozen attendees met at the Philipsburg-Osceola Middle School for a school safety discussion on Friday, September 14, 2018.
Min Xian / WPSU

The state senate majority policy committee hosted a school safety discussion on Friday in Philipsburg. It’s the seventh out of ten sessions planned regarding the allocation of $60 million in state funding for schools. 

Over two dozen attendees met at the Philipsburg-Osceola Middle School, including representatives from eight school districts in Central Pennsylvania.

Dr. John Zesiger is the superintendent of the Moshannon Valley School District. He said the school district will most likely use the funding to improve their mental health resources.

Photo: AP

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A report on safety threats and security concerns in Pennsylvania schools concludes there is a need for better access to mental health services.
The task force led by the governor and elected auditor general released a 46-page report Monday that recommends expanded use of existing mental health programs and better ways to inform parents and students about what is currently available.
The broad findings of the report were made public in June, but the full document was just released and posted online.

A Republican state senate policy committee hosted a roundtable discussion about school safety in Williamsport on August 16, 2018.
Min Xian / Keystone Crossroads

A Republican state senate policy committee hosted a roundtable discussion about school safety in Williamsport on Thursday. Much of the discussion centered around ways to allocate the $60 million lawmakers reserved for it this year.  

There were nearly a dozen school districts from Central Pennsylvania at the roundtable. Lawmakers and school officials agreed the school safety needs of different school districts can vary greatly.

About 300 State College High School students attended a memorial in rememberance of the victims of the Parkland Shooting in conjunction with the National School Walkout.
Min Xian / WPSU

Students across the nation hosted walkouts on Wednesday in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida last month. 

Students of State College High School held a memorial to pay tribute. Seventeen students read names and biographies of the 17 victims who died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, followed by a moment of silence.  

About 300 students chose to attend the memorial in the school courtyard. School administration and student organizers worked together to plan to event. 

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.
AP Photo

(Harrisburg) -- In the wake of last month's shooting in Parkland, Florida, the state auditor general is expanding the scope of school districts audits in the hopes of improving safety.

Eugene DePasquale says his office will take a deep dive on the security procedures at all of the commonwealth's public schools.

Previously, districts that performed well financially and academically received less scrutiny.