West Allegheny teachers training for critical situations

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About 200 West Allegheny teachers recently received training from North Fayette police on how to respond in emergency situations.

Police held sessions in January at the middle and high schools during a teacher in-service and in McKee Elementary and Donaldson Elementary after school hours, North Fayette Sgt. John Bates said.

Findlay police hold annual teacher training at Wilson Elementary and are planning an evacuation drill for this spring, Capt. Mark Joyce said. North Fayette police will hold another drill with middle school and high school teachers during an in-service Monday.

North Fayette's recent two-hour sessions were led by Sgt. Bates -- who is the school resource officer and D.A.R.E. coordinator -- along with Sgt. Chad Slovick and Officer Mark Kern.

Sgt. Bates said he focused on what teachers should do to cooperate with police during a critical incident, such as a shooter in the building, and how teachers should respond in non-classroom areas such as a hallway, playground or cafeteria.

He said the training had been planned prior to the December elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., but that the incident put the spotlight on school safety.

"The way our society is right now, a lot of schools are going to be checking their security and whether their teachers and administration are prepared," Sgt. Bates said.

In a January letter to parents, West Allegheny superintendent John DiSanti said the district recently has revisited its emergency plan, school security protocols and counseling/mental health practices. He said the administration would brief the school board on current measures and recommend additional considerations.

He wrote that school safety has always been a priority, but the Newtown incident has caused school officials "to re-emphasize and refocus our energies on those strategies and actions that can be implemented to deter violent acts."

Sgt. Bates said police are planning further exercises in the schools.

"It was very, very well received by the teachers and administration, and we're not done yet," he said.

education - neigh_west

Andrea Iglar, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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