A video of the presentation of A Community Conversation on School Safety, an April 25 partnership presentation from Lee’s Summit R-7 and the Lee’s Summit Police Department, is available at this City of Lee’s Summit webpage.
Lee’s Summit R-7 schools are continuing to enhance and improve safety and security measures and procedures. During spring 2015, R-7 voters approved a no-tax-increase bond issue including several items that are enhancing safety and security. These improvements are designed to ensure a safe learning environment for all students, which is a top priority within Lee’s Summit R-7.
Many enhancements in playground safety resulted from the 2015 no-tax-increase bond issue. Lee’s Summit R-7 staff evaluated each playground to determine a plan of action, removing and replacing any outdated equipment before installing new artificial grass safety turf at all Lee’s Summit R-7 playgrounds. The turf replaced wood and rubber mulch and provides a uniform, clean and easily maintainable surface for children to play.
Over the last few years, a number of school entries have been remodeled to enhance safety in terms of visitor access. The school district has spent more than $2.6 million on the facility improvements, new cameras and replacement and repairs of related equipment. In addition, the R-7 School District requires that staff wear identification badges that include photographs.
Throughout the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, school employees constantly emphasize emergency and safety measures, including procedures and preparations. The R-7 Emergency Response Quality Focus Team meets on a regular basis to address safety and security upgrades and to review the district’s comprehensive Emergency Operations Plan. This plan focuses on prevention, mitigation, preparedness, emergency response and recovery.
All Lee’s Summit R-7 staff receive frequent training over these procedures, which cover everything from tornadoes to a crime in progress to a hazardous materials spill. Beginning in fall 2015, all district staff members began participating in a hands-on training called Active Shooter / Intruder Response Training (ASIRT). The training program, created by Strategos International, has been used successfully by many school districts and other organizations across the nation and within the metropolitan area. In addition to providing R-7 staff members with skills and hands-on training, ASIRT meets and exceeds requirements in Missouri law for this type of training.
Students and staff members conduct regular drills on a variety of safety procedures, including natural disasters, fires and those related to intruders at schools. In addition, safety and security audits are conducted at R-7 schools throughout the year to ensure safe learning environments using consensus standards and best practices.
Each R-7 middle school and high school has a full-time school resource officer. These specially trained officers from the Lee’s Summit Police Department assist with crime prevention at schools and are available to react quickly when a police officer is needed on the school premises. All elementary and middle schools also offer DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) training, and DARE police officers operate out of the elementary schools on a part-time basis.
School resource officers have been instrumental in implementing a Lee’s Summit Schools Campus Crime Stoppers Tips Line. This phone number – (816) 986-1450 – offers callers the opportunity to anonymously leave a recorded phone message reporting crimes such as thefts, vandalism, harassment, bullying, assault, drugs and weapons violations that occur on school property.
In addition to the Campus Crime Stoppers Tips Line, individuals are encouraged to use the SafeSchools Alert incident reporting system, available on each school’s home page. The SafeSchools Alert includes the ability to report information via text, website, e-mail and telephone. Concerns may be reported anonymously.
One of the most important factors influencing school safety is the establishment and cultivation of positive relationships between our educators, students and families. We continue to encourage students, staff and families to communicate with our district when they believe they know of a safety concern. The information we receive from individuals as well as the anonymous reporting methods is investigated thoroughly and has proven very helpful in a number of instances.
District employees are also trained to identify students exhibiting unhealthy behaviors. These students are identified and offered appropriate interventions through a team effort at the schools. As well as training at the district level, a number of R-7 staff members have participated in regional, state and national conferences focusing on school and youth safety and crisis planning.