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The Indiana Daily Student

education

Indiana Department of Education announces additional efforts to ensure safety services to students

Indiana is working to make schools even safer for all Hoosier children.

Glenda Ritz, superintendent of public instruction, announced Aug. 29 at the Indiana School Safety Academy that additional efforts by the Indiana Department of Education to ensure all Hoosier students learn in an environment that is safe and welcoming are being made, according to an Indiana Department of Education press release.

Ritz said the department will be expanding the services provided to local schools and law enforcement, as well as working with legislature to strengthen Indiana’s laws in the upcoming legislative session.

“No student can learn unless they are safe,” Ritz said in the release. “As a lifelong educator, I know that keeping our children safe and healthy is a responsibility that our schools take very seriously.”

The Indiana School Safety Academy has provided schools access to certified training and instruction since 1999 with resources and training by nationally recognized safety experts, according to the department website.

The department’s plan includes calling for working with background check providers, making enhanced training available to all schools to help school personnel identify students and focusing on the Indiana School Safety Academy.

Background checks are required by law for each school district to develop a local School Safety Plan, Samantha Hart, press secretary for the Indiana Department of Education said.

“The department is focused on ensuring that schools are offered the lowest possible rate by background check vendors.” Hart said. “By offering a lower rate, we hope to encourage more schools to perform expanded background checks on school and coaching volunteers in addition to the checks that are already required by law.”

The department trains school safety specialists and educators in Indiana on how to ensure that all schools in the state are safe and welcoming for all children.

It is offered at no cost to schools and law enforcement and focuses on critical safety issues, according to the release.

The academy is a part of the Indiana Department of Education safety initiatives and provides basic, regional and advanced level training throughout the year.

In the last four years, more than 1,700 new school safety specialists have been trained, and an Indiana Department of Education Response Team has been formed to serve schools during a large-scale crisis.

In 2014, the Tennessee Department of Education adopted the IDOE model to create its own Safety Specialist Academy. The academy has grown steadily, with hundreds of new specialists added every year since 2013, according to the department’s website.

The IDOE provides information regarding all different types of safety measures for Indiana schools.

They include fire drill preparation, building plans, predator and anti-bullying prevention and safety specialist training.

The MCCSC provides a Safe Hotline for students, staff and parents to voice their concerns through a message on the hotline number.

They also have added a TEXT 4 HELP project through the National Safe Place program using technology to offer youths quick access to the closest location where they can get immediate help and safety.

“Superintendent Ritz takes school safety very seriously,” Hart said. “Over the past few years, the Indiana School Safety Academy has become a nationally recognized model.”

For more information on the School Safety Specialist Academy, visit 
doe.in.gov/safety.

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