Republic’s school security, student relations discussed at board meeting

Mental health, physical security and positive relationships were among the topics Scott Umbarger, the Republic School District’s safety and security director, spoke about when he delivered the security department’s Ongoing System Review at the Republic School Board meeting on Thursday, June 20.
During his presentation, Umbarger covered what changes the safety and security department had made in the past year, as well as what changes he planned to make to prepare for the 2019-20 school year.
One of the changes Umbarger said he made was he changed the department’s mission statement. It now reads, “The Mission of the Safety and Security Department is to ensure a safe, secure, and fun learning and working environment for our students and staff to help ensure each student is prepared for a successful future.”
Umbarger said the change was made as a way to help students have a better learning environment.
Additionally, Umbarger spoke about the efforts he made to get feedback from students about their thoughts on school safety.
“This year, when I took over,” he said, “I sat down with the high school and middle school, and we came up with a student safety committee, to where myself and (Robert Duncan, school resource officer) met with a cross-section of students from each grade, and asked them, ‘Why do you not feel safe? What do you feel safe about? What do you want to see changed? Is there anything we can do to improve it?’”
Umbarger said that, while they didn’t get a whole lot of feedback from the students, the meetings did open a line of dialogue with them.
Umbarger also spoke about what improvements the safety and security department would make in preparation for the next year. He spoke of the district’s Emergency Plan, which he said was good, but needed more work.
Speaking on mental health, Umbarger described it as “one of the biggest problems everybody’s seen” across the nation. He told the board mental health training would be provided to the school resource officers, administrators, counselors, officers from the Republic Police Department and others “so that when it comes to threat assessments, we’re all on the same page, we have a common language, and everybody knows what information they need to bring to the table.”
Umbarger also spoke on physical security for the district. He told the board that the school’s resource officers and the Republic Police Department would receive training through the state on how to deal with an active shooter situation; the training is tailored specifically to the district.
Other physical security measures Umbarger discussed included a five-year plan to have all doors access-controlled and cameras where they are needed, a new procedure to control who has access to keys to the buildings, and a new visitor management system that will allow the department to know who is in the buildings at what time.


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