News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 28, 2013

READERS’ FORUM: Nov. 29, 2013


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---- — Cooperation helps enhance security

I would like to thank all law-enforcement agencies who helped plan and provide training for teachers and other staff in the Vigo County School Corp. on Nov. 12. The agencies include the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department, Terre Haute Police Department and the Indiana State Police.

Planning for an extreme event involving a hostile armed intruder took much time and meetings between these agencies and the principals of the schools involved. It included notification of parents of the drill that required us to dismiss schools earlier than normal. Since this drill included only specific schools, it required us to do things differently than ever before.

The VCSC transportation department was excellent in making this work, as an early dismissal impacts the entire transportation network. There were a few glitches but Mr. Fennell, the director of transportation, and his great crew made it work. We believe that drills of this type help our teaching staff to think differently and prepare for the worst scenario that we hope will never happen.

Still, instances at malls, churches, office buildings as well as schools force us to train our staff appropriately. We hope that, in future years, the State of Indiana would allow schools more time for these kinds of drills by allowing at least a half day to adequately in-service our staff.

In the meantime, we will continue to do what we can to train our staff for such a dreadful situation. We plan to duplicate this training this year in all of our schools. Vigo County has led the state in school security with our SPO program. This program was made possible by a number of agencies including the law-enforcement agencies noted above as well as the County Council, mayor, prosecutor and others.

The SPO program would not have been possible without the cooperation and support of Sheriff Greg Ewing and his staff and Chief of Police John Plasse and his staff as well as Chief Don Lark of the West Terre Haute Police Department.

I would also like to thank Sue Loughlin and the Tribune-Star for excellent reporting of the drill as well as for notification of the early dismissal. Our news stations WTHI and WTWO were also on the scene and helped to inform the public of this important drill.

In summary, this training and others are not possible without the strong leadership and commitment of our Superintendent Tanoos and our School Board who allowed this to take place.

— Ray Azar

School Safety Specialist

Director of Student Services

Vigo County School Corp.