It took a four-hour closed session, but the Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees approved 13 of the 15 proposed security measures Monday night. The new districtwide security plan will be implemented immediately.
The approved measures include:
A second School Resource Officer will be provided to the district. Local law enforcement will be hired to work at all WISD campuses during the school day. The Marshal Plan will be implemented, including the identification of key personnel meeting appropriate qualifications to undergo 80 hours of rigorous training provided by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. The goal is to appoint at least one appropriately qualified and trained school marshal at each campus of the district. The Guardian Plan will be implemented with select volunteers meeting appropriate qualification to undergo training similar to that which is required of school marshals. Metal detector wands will be located at every campus, with random screenings to occur throughout the school day and at extracurricular events. A discipline policy for students and staff who intentionally leave school facilities unsecured was adopted. The district will provide crisis counseling for students as needed, including working to identify and provide services for students identified as at-risk for violent behavior. Staff will be trained on security, lockdown and evacuation procedures utilizing the standard response protocol and standard reunification method approved by the State of Texas. Many district personnel has already received this training from the I Love U Guys Foundation, and the district will conduct an additional session with the Foundation later this month. A delayed evacuation model to ensure that pulled fire alarms are not false will be implemented. The district will continue to work with and train community members to provide visibility and volunteer security, specifically targeting retired law enforcement and veterans. The district will implement teen leadership programs at junior high campuses that work directly with district security officers and SROs. Programs to encourage first responders and law enforcement to be on district campuses, including workspaces, free lunches, among other ideas will be implemented. Improved programs and policies for parent notification during emergency events will be implemented. “The safety of students is the number-one priority of the Board of Trustees and district administrators,” stated Dusty Autrey, president of the Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees. “We want parents to feel comfortable entrusting us with their children each day, and we believe the programs we plan to implement will make our campuses even more secure.”
During the second half of the meeting, one trustee left, so each item voted on was passed six to zero. No action was taken regarding items concerning the resignation of WISD Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Glenn. No action was taken in regards to Glenn’s transition or search process and no action was taken to appoint an interim or acting superintendent.
No action was taken on the pending litigation, either. This was discussed in closed session.
Before the marathon closed session, the trustees hosted a public hearing for citizens to voice any opinions on safety and security on WISD campuses.
Micah Fletcher was first to take the podium. He advised the board to look into free resources for safety services.
Miche Bowen expressed issues concerning first responders having access to Finley Elementary School with the construction of Garden Valley Apartments. She suggested the bus route toward the rear of the school be extended for emergency service vehicles.
Another resident, Loreta Hill, relayed her extensive background in law enforcement and voiced her thoughts on how the Guardian Plan would not be most efficient. Her argument was that some training with arming teachers isn’t enough and that the safety should be left to the professionals. She did not think more guns on campus is the answer, but instead instilling a multi-faceted and multi-layered system.
Rachel Malone, the Texas Director of Gun Owners of America, spoke about how the Guardian Plan is an “efficient method in hardening schools,” while the Marshal Plan is flawed. She then relayed research that proved people are safer where weapons are secured in a non-gun environment.
Lee Cornado, of the Texas Department of Public Safety, made the public aware that the department has partnered with the governor’s office. He then reviewed the program, iWatch, that allows people to report suspicious activity. DPS officers have taken an active role in security for schools by performing walk-throughs.
Lastly, Sylvia Olsen mentioned how she was unable to contact her child by phone at the new Waxahachie High School campus and that other parents iterated the same problem. This was a concern for her when addressing school safety. She also voiced her support of the Guardian Plan.
ALSO ON THE AGENDA
Ginger Robinson, WISD Director of Accountability and Assessment and Counseling, reviewed the teen dating violence policy, which includes the definition of dating violence. Working with the policy, Robinson quickly learned that these definitions were the same as bullying and cyberbullying policies.
The two violence policies were married into one to allow for one guide and ensure the same forms and procedures are in place. This also meets all state compliance guidelines.
The item was informational, only, and will be brought back for approval during the Aug. 27 meeting.
Shelle Blaylock, WISD Assistant Superintendent of Leadership and Academics, requested approval of the final review of the 2018-19 Student Handbook and Student Code of Conduct.
An update to the safety plan concerning students and staff exposing exterior building to hazardous situations was added. The handbook also included the charge policy that was approved in July. The trustees unanimously approved this item.
Ryan Kahlden, WISD Chief Financial Officer, asked the board to consider a construction manager at-risk for the Northgrove Elementary School project. Trustee Clay Schoolfield voiced he was not comfortable making that decision just yet since the board had a busy this week. Autrey agreed and tabled the action item for the Aug. 27 meeting.
Kahlden also presented campus updates around the district.
The Coleman Junior High School sign should be up this week as the brick is now finished. Concrete work patched up driveways for buses at Coleman and Finley Junior High. A learning lab suite and a new art facility are in progress at the Coleman campus as well. The greenhouse at the former WHS has been taken down and cleaned. The old CTE wing is renovated for District Alternative Placement, School of Choice and additional office space. The cafeteria and bathroom were remodeled for the DAP and School of Choice.
The Turner Pre-Kindergarten entry was re-designed to be more kid-friendly, and signage from the former High School of Choice and Challenge Academy were removed.
At Wilemon STEAM Academy, the black room was transformed into a second-grade classroom. The principal’s office and kindergarten rooms were renovated from being science labs. A new reception area was slightly moved to the front. Bathrooms were remodeled as well.
At Waxahachie Global High larger computer labs were renovated, and fume vents from Wilemon campus were installed at Global.
“Things will only get better as the days go on,” Kahlden said.
Glenn added, “They will probably be working in projects through Christmas."
Autrey mentioned how the lack of subcontractors on campus at Wilemon during a walkthrough “disturbed” him. He asked what could be done to stress that the kindergarten classrooms needed to be finished and if there was a penalty clause.
Kahlden said there is “no penalty clause.” Kahlden also noted he was told by the current crew that the classrooms would be largely completed by 3 p.m. Wednesday. There is a scheduled walkthrough on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.
“[…] the majority of the work is limited to tile work on the floors, putting in replacement tile and doing the waxing and final cleaning," Khalden said. "Our main concern at this point is one classroom.”
When it comes to the renovations at Coleman, Khalden added, “We have started addressing all of their concerns. There were some of them that were scheduled for completion quickly and others that we haven’t made major headway on but should be concerns that we will get done before the start of school."
In other business,
• The board unanimously approved the personnel report as recommended by the superintendent that included employment, retirements, resignation and position changes of professional personnel.
• The 2018-19 Employee Handbook was approved.
• The board approved the contract with J. Volk Consulting as the planner for WISD.
• The board granted the City of Waxahachie an easement through district property for the Little Creek Trail Project. This trail will go through Chapman Park and behind Global High School.
• An easement for the City of Waxahachie and The Mark on 287 was also approved for a development near Waxahachie High School.
The next meeting will be on Aug. 27 at 6 p.m. at the Waxahachie ISD Administration Building.
- - - - - -
Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450