Archive for Thursday, May 3, 2007

Baldwin students are in good hands

May 3, 2007

We were very pleased to hear about the meeting between Baldwin School District Supt. Paul Dorathy and Mike Gammage Monday regarding security measures in the schools.

There was outrage expressed by many parents after how the April 19 bomb scare incident was handled in the schools. That's to be expected and is warranted. It all came down to communication, or the lack there of. It wasn't just the school district's fault, by a long shot. Everyone involved with that one dropped the ball, starting with 911 dispatch.

But, lessons were learned, thankfully.

And, even better than that -- especially without any real cost of life or other disaster -- it has got everyone doing what needs to be done -- communicating.

That's what Gammage was doing when he offered his services to the district free of charge. Gammage was the first-ever School Resource Officer in the Baldwin City district. As a retired agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms with extensive law enforcement experience, he was overly qualified for the SRO position, but was extremely good. He set the bar very high for every SRO to follow.

It only made sense that Gammage -- with his experience at the federal level, as well as knowing the Baldwin district inside and out -- would be the perfect source to look at and improve security efforts.

It was also a no-brainer that the school district would take him up on his offer to help.

In the little time that has elapsed since the April 19 bomb threats, we've seen huge strides taken to improve the safety of our students. That's great.

It's also imperative. Since that April 19 incident, the district has been touched by another incident when there was a bomb threat in Girard, where the Baldwin High School track team was scheduled to compete. The situation was handled flawlessly by the district, with all participants asked if they wanted to attend, as well as their parents. The track was eight blocks from the courthouse in Girard where the bomb threat had been made. All went well.

If that weren't enough, there was a bomb threat at a school in Bonner Springs on Tuesday. On Wednesday, there was the state-wide school shooting alert based on an Internet posting on originating from the Atchison area. The list goes on and on and will for some time.

Again, the Baldwin district responded accordingly. All schools were placed in a "heightened state of awareness" and front doors were locked.

But, the biggest development is that the recommendation will be made to the school board that the district have an automated call system for next year. With that system, all parents will be notified by phone within 10 to 15 minutes of any incidents. It can also be used for days when weather forces the canceling of classes.

We're convinced our students are in the best possible hands security wise. It's good to know.

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