The Penn Hills School District would like to reassure all families of our ongoing commitment to student and staff safety. Following the tragedy in Florida, all staff has been encouraged to facilitate discussion of that particular incident, along with “What if?” scenarios. Of course, those conversations must be age-appropriate and may extend beyond the classroom to include conversations with our school counselors, social workers, and/or behavior specialists—all of whom are key members of our intervention teams.
In terms of focused training, our students routinely practice lock-down drills. Additionally, our staff participated in an active shooter drill August 2015 under the direction of Lt. John Sakoian from Command Excellence, Penn Hills Police Chief Howard Burton, and various first responders. A similar refresher is being scheduled for August 2018.
Beyond that, our administrators were trained January 2018 according to the National Incident Management System (NIMS), which is endorsed by FEMA and PEMA. This training will inform continued work on our Emergency Operation Plan (EOP), which began Fall 2016 with the support of One Star Emergency Management. Most recently, our Board approved purchase of a Mobile Emergency Response (MERP) app that will be available to all staff in the near future. This app will put at individual fingertips a flowchart of “To Do’s” that are incident-specific, thus preserving valuable response time.
Additional supports include a double-door/man trap design in each school lobby, metal detectors, surveillance cameras, and a full security staff in each building that is supplemented by retired police officers at our elementary and middle school and an active Penn Hills Police Officer on site daily at our high school.
Finally, we remain responsive to any/all reported threats and maintain a commitment to transparency, whereby we regularly notify families of reported threats once a threat assessment is made by the local police department. In these instances, if lock-down is chosen as an option to facilitate further police investigation, families are notified, and contact is made again after the “all clear” is given by law enforcement.Should you have any specific questions about prevention and practices in your child’s building, please contact the Building Principal.