Tahlequah Public Schools continues to stay updated with school safety and security measures. We continue to put additional safety ideas into practice and feel that our schools should be safe havens for teaching and learning where both students and staff will be free from violence and crime.
The days of just walking into a school with free access are no more. All schools within Tahlequah Public Schools have locked access with main entry door monitors and buzz-in access during all school hours. All visitors must identify themselves and are checked through the school computer records as to proper entry. Once inside, all visitors are tracked with sign-in badges which include the visitor’s time of entry and destination, and visitors must sign out when leaving the school. We have school cameras in place at all of our school sites in order to monitor activity. Fences with locked gates surround most sites while school is in session.
Over 20 months ago, representatives from the Office of Homeland Security toured our school sites for an entire week. They presented us with a report on additional things we could do to make our sites safer. Homeland Security representatives praised our district on what we had already done to be proactive and gave us additional ideas to improve safety at all school sites.
Within all our school sites, you will find locked classroom doors at all times during class time, which is now the norm along with School Resource Officers in attendance at each school. Our school resource officers (also known as SROs) are certified Tahlequah Police officers who also work all school events. We are very lucky to have such a fine and experienced crew of officers. Their safety expertise has really helped us to grow as a school district and to stay on the cutting edge with school safety. The officers also build positive relationships with our students as to keeping the line of communication open with students in order to stay up to date with what is happening within the school itself. To this point in time in the U.S., there has never been a school shooting at a school with a School Resource Officer present.
We have School Lockdown procedures as well as Intruder plans and procedures in place. Command posts and staging areas have been established along with primary evacuation sites if needed for each school. The district has incorporated A.L.I.C.E. Training at all sites along with plans to deal with responding to a crisis, bomb threats, fire, tornado, bus safety, bully prevention procedures as well as many other procedures. The district’s emergency response procedures work hand in hand with our City and County Emergency Management office.