“Safety is on the mind of administrators everyday,” said Superintendent of Schools David Weiss. “We start the day with student safety; we end the day with student safety.” Following violent incidents in schools nationwide, including the shooting in Newtown, Conn. in December, Long Beach school officials spoke to the community about school safety at the Jan. 22 Board of Education meeting at Long Beach Middle School.
The student safety presentation, given by Chief Operating Office Michael DeVito discussed district-wide safety precautions. Not only did the presentation focus on physical safety, but it also included social and emotional safety, which encompasses what the district does to ensure that students feel emotionally secure while at school, DeVito said.
“We’re constantly checking to make sure that our existing measures are working,” said DeVito.
The school district employs Summit Security to provide their guard and patrol needs, DeVito explained. Summit representatives were on hand at the meeting to explain to the audience their stringent application process for guards and the training they provide all employees.
All applicants go through a criminal record checks and drug testing before they are hired. Additionally, school guards are given eight hours of preparatory training plus an annual refresher, 16 hours of on-the-job training and a four-hour site-specific safety orientation, said DeVito. The district has security guards stationed at each facility, as well as one roving guard and one mobile supervisor.
“[We] detect, deter and report,” said the Summit Security representative. “We’re out there looking for incidents, and making sure if there are incidents, that those are being reporting appropriately.”
One concern that Trustee Patrick Gallagher expressed regarding the school security guards was that students have misconceptions that the guards are “ex-criminals” and thus are not taken seriously.
“I don’t think our students are familiar with the security system,” said Gallagher. “They have no idea who you are or what you are about.”