The next time you visit a Lakota Local Schools building, expect a staff member to ask for your driver’s license.
“It’s something I haven’t seen anywhere else,” said Lakota East Junior Eli Tivin. “It’s a comforting presence.”
Lakota Local Schools began utilizing a new check-in safety system called Raptor at the start of the school year, according to Superintendent Matthew Miller. Through Raptor, the district can conduct a background check by scanning a visitor’s ID. The system prints a photographic badge for guests as well.
“We are on day nine of school and already had a notification that somebody came to the building that had something on the record that we might want to check out,” Miller said. “It wasn’t anything serious but they did notify us.”
Miller said, in theory, all of the adults in any Lakota building should be wearing a school badge or a Raptor visitor badge.
Senior Landon Meador said the system makes him feel more at ease.
“If you’re letting people in the building, you need to know who they are -- you need to have people here protecting the building to know who’s in here and who’s supposed to be in here and who can’t be in here,” Meador said.
Meador and Tivin said they’re excited about other initiatives within the district aimed at keeping Lakota’s nearly 17,000 students safe -- including an anonymous school safety hotline. Students and community members can leave anonymous tips about unusual incidents through a text message or phone call.
“A big thing in schools -- you don’t want to be a snitch and rattle on your friends,” Tivin said. “But sometimes that’s what you need to do for their own safety.”
“You see all these cases where it’s small things people miss,” Meador said. “That’s where the big things come from.”
Miller said the district received at least three notifications that rose to the level of concern since the hotline went online in April.
“We know that we’ve had kids that used that -- that were concerned about something,” Miller said, “Then the authorities let us know, and we checked things out and luckily nothing happened.”
Safety Tip Line
Call or Text
Julie Shaffer is a mom and the school board president. She said reporting uncertainties is essential.
“As we’ve found in many of these incidents, people have known that there was a threat and they didn’t report that,” Shaffer said. “It’s essential that we use these tip lines so that people can report things that they’re aware of.”
The safety tip line is a free resource offered by SaferSchools Ohio. Miller said there is a cost associated with Raptor but the cost will decrease year-to-year.
“It’s well worth the cost to help keep our kids safe,” Miller said.
In addition to the new layers of security in the district, Lakota Local Schools added a school resource officer to each of the 18 campuses in the district. That’s a big jump from 2012, when the district had three school resource officers covering every building in the district, according to Miller. That number increased to ten after voters passed a school levy.
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“We see a lot of things we get concerned about,” Miller said, “And the amount of time the school resource officers we had in our schools wasn’t the amount we wanted to be with everything going on across the country.”
According to Shaffer, safety in schools is about changing and evolving.
“As we’ve seen no school is safe and we can’t rely on the world that’s changing,” she said. “We have to rely on changing safety measures to keep up with that changing world.”