Thursday, January 3, 2013

It Takes a Village to Protect a Child, Part Two

This is the second part to the series, “It Takes a Village to Protect a Child.”  In the first part of the series, I stopped just before I received a response from our county sheriff regarding a threat to a nearby school.  As I answered the phone, I hoped to myself that he had positive news.....

     When I answered the phone, I was out in the hallway checking one of the exterior doors facing our front parking lot.  As I looked out the side window of the door, I could see our county sheriff sitting in his police vehicle in our parking lot.  His presence in the parking lot left me reassured that he was taking this situation seriously and if “something” was going to happen we would have someone at our building immediately.  
      “Hello Sheriff,” I said.  He got right to the point. “Mike, I just want to let you know what I have found out.”  He explained that the Kansas Bureau of Investigation had been working on this situation throughout the night to determine whether or not it was a credible threat.  He said they didn’t believe there was any credibility to it.  A flood of relief came over me when he finished explaining the situation to me. “Mike it sounds like a hoax.”  I knew at that moment proceeding forward would be different than if he would have given a more serious response in our conversation.  I couldn’t help but think how much I appreciated him working so quickly on the issue.  Within a span of less than fifteen minutes, from the time I had the conversation with the teacher and the student to the time the sheriff said it was a hoax, I had what I needed to move forward in a decision for the day.
     The moment I heard “hoax” from the sheriff, I decided activities at the school could go on fairly normally.  At least as normally as the last day before Christmas break could be.  Christmas parties could still go on as planned.  Kids could still have recess outside and the field trip to town, which was going to leave within the next hour, could still proceed full steam ahead.   The next step was to try and make everyone feel safe by taking some precautions for the day.  
     I told the sheriff we were going to go ahead and leave all of the exterior doors locked for the day.  He thought that was a good idea and even offered to send out a plain clothes officer to be on duty for the day.  “I appreciate that and we will take you up on the offer,” I said.  He said the officer will be out immediately.  As I thanked the sheriff, he told me to let him know if there is anything else they could do.  
     As I started back toward my office, where I would pull the building principals in my office to update them on the situation, I couldn’t help to think how well this had worked out.  The information came to my school via students who then notified a teacher and then reported it immediately to me.  In turn, using the office staff and then county agencies, we were able act and make a well-informed decision for the day.  I thought to myself this is what it’s going to take to help protect children in today's schools – everyone in the community being sensitive to information and acting together to insure the safety of our kids.  It really is going to “Take a Village to Protect a Child” in the society we live in.  As the morning progressed, this thought became solidified as I watched the actions of people in our surrounding community. 

Join me in my next post to find out how the morning proceeded.

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