GOTHENBURG – The Gothenburg School Board had their monthly meeting on Monday night (March 12). Gothenburg schools was one of the many schools around the country that has had to deal with a threat or threats from a student. The school board meeting was an opportunity to review some of the procedures and protocols for such threats. It was also a forum for some parents in the district to share concerns.
Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Mike Teahon read through many of the plans that are in place for a threat on the school and it’s students. Teahon prefaced what he was saying by reminding everyone gathered, that much of the plan is confidential. He also stressed that students are protected by FERPA (The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974). FERPA is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. Therefore, much like HIPPA (which protect medical patients privacy rights) FERPA disallows any discussion in public of students or student involved in a threat situation at the school.
Teahon said that the school district takes safety seriously. He said that safe schools protocols are renewed annually by the staff. They also bring in people from the outside like the fire department, EMS and the Department of Education. Teahon said the plan is in three parts Cultural, Protocol and Facilities.
Teahon said culturally, the school is working to developing relationships. He said they have added a K-3 counselor and a school psychologist. They have also implemented the “true friends act.” The purpose of “Act” is to foster a good relationship between students, teachers and other students. The schools has also worked to establish closer relationships between itself and the police.
Teahon emphasized to the audience, much of the protocol that takes place is kept confidential. He did say that they have established a quick response team consisting of teachers and administration. He also said that much of the safety training that takes place is strategic with specific staff and students.
Finally, Teahon said that the facilities in Gothenburg are always being reviewed for long and short term capital improvements. Some of the things they are looking at right now is redoing security cameras and a controlled access system.
Three patrons were on hand to share their concerns. Teahon reminded those gathered that his door is open if they want to share their questions.
The threat or threats that surfaced last week were handled through the safe schools protocol. Teahon said the process worked.
“Everyone did a great job,” Teahon said speaking of the schools administration, teachers and police department.
Teahon said they will evaluate the procedures that took place. He said that the school will take a closer look at what information should be shared, what can be shared and when and how the information should be shared with the public.
In other action, the school board accepted the resignation of Dudley Elementary Principal Jim Widdifield (he will be the Superintendent at Minden next year). The school board also accepted the resignation of sixth grade teacher Zach Duffy. The process is underway to find a replacement for Widdifield. Teahon said, he has been pleased with the quality of the applicants they’ve gotten so far.
That next meeting of the Gothenburg School Board will be April 9, at 7:00 p.m.