We would like to take this opportunity to remind our school community about the importance of school safety and the protocols that Washington Township deploys on a regular basis to support our highest priority and charge … to keep our students and staff safe.
While there are always questions and the district consistently examines what more can be done, we are reminded that the protocols and procedures that Washington Township has worked tirelessly to develop, continue to work and often result in situations being diverted and resolved in a matter of seconds and minutes.
The procedures and protocols that are followed by our school safety team in collaboration with school administrators, are part of a highly comprehensive safety plan which was developed by a multi-disciplinary team made up of our District Safety Committee and with our first responder partners which include IMPD, IFD, and the Department of Homeland Security.
In addition to this safety plan are guidelines that shape how safety and security is approached in Washington Township, which include guidelines in the following areas:
Hired personnel dedicated to safety and security. Washington Township has a police department, made up of seven fulltime police officers who have Indiana Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) certifications and the same statutory authority as IMPD and county officers. In addition, all fulltime officers are National School Association of School Resource Officer certified. These police officers provide law enforcement presence and resources, develop relationship and rapport with students and staff, and are integral members of our school emergency response teams. These full-time personnel efforts are supplemented with additional police officers from various law enforcement agencies who are employed with Washington Township on a part-time basis, and have to meet strict and specific selection criteria.
Additional district personnel. Beyond police officers, Washington Township has eight administrators that are trained and have met all statutory requirements for certification as School Safety Specialists in the state of Indiana. Two of the eight are the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent, which speaks to the level of commitment to safety from the highest level of administration.
Emergency Response Teams. Each school in Washington Township has its own Emergency Response Team that meets several times each semester and is led by Washington Township’s Police Chief, Brian Clouse. These teams are responsible for the implementation of district and building emergency plans and ensuring that all required safety drills are conducted in accordance with our emergency plans and all statutory requirements. This past year, the district passed the state required safety and security audit with a near 100% rating.
Collaboration with local law enforcement. Washington Township works in deep collaboration with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD). IMPD is on campus within minutes when called, to assist and support our Washington Township police officers, administrators, and community. We collaborate with their offices not only when manpower is requested, but also in the use of intelligence to detect threats and determine the credibility of threats.
Visitor Management System. Washington Township has upgraded lobby security at all schools by implementing a new visitor management system that requires the scan of official identification before entry. In addition, funds from the 2016 referendum are allowing Washington Township to incorporate safe and secure entrances in all buildings as well as improving interior locks and other safety measures.
Metal Detectors. The district has used metal detectors, both stationery and handheld, as appropriate and will continue to assess and explore the need for future use in our schools. Handheld metal detectors are also available to assist building administrators across the school district to enhance safety in matters involving possible weapons and other safety concerns. Metal detectors are not infallible. They are certainly a deterrent and we continue to investigate options for Washington Township, but nothing replaces the human factor of observation and if you see something say something, do something. Our students and staff take seriously the charge to be the eyes and ears for a safer school campus.
What can parents and guardians do to help? Parents can help by becoming active participants in their child’s school; organizations like PTO and Parent Council Network. Communicate with students on a regular basis regarding issues of safety and security. Be aware of your student’s on-line presence. Be aware of changes in your child’s behavior and communicate any concerns to your child’s school. Ask school police officers for information regarding school safety and security. Police officers are available to present safety information to any PTO or parent group. Know what is in your child’s backpack and encourage your children to pay close attention to all safety drills at their school.
After hours emergencies. Students, parents and community members in Washington Township also have the ability to anonymously submit a tip via phone at 317-672-0613 or online at our website www.msdwt.k12.in.us under the SafeSchools Alert “Submit a Tip” link at https://msdwt-in.safeschoolsalert.com. We encourage anyone that has information regarding the safety and security of our students and staff to, “if you see something, say something.”
In conclusion, the issue of students bringing weapons to school is not specific to Washington Township or North Central High School. This issue has affected urban, suburban and rural school districts in Indiana. It has impacted both public and private schools in Marion and Hamilton County as well as across the country. Washington Township is confident in our ability to effectively staff our schools with trained, school police officers who build relationships with our students in order to stay abreast of happenings in and out of our schools.
School safety in Washington Township has always been and will continue to be top priority for administration and staff. We appreciate parents having conversations with their children to remind them the importance of if they observe anything that could compromise the safety of any of our schools, they should report it immediately to our school police officers, administrators, counselors, staff and/or their teachers.
Thank you for your continued support of Washington Township Schools.
Dr. Nikki Woodson, Superintendent
Brian Clouse, Chief of Police
John Fencl, School Board President