Palestine PTO plans safety meeting

EAST PALESTINE — Echoing the concerns of public schools across the nation, county school districts are turning to parents and their local law enforcement to improve school safety.

The East Palestine Parent Teacher Organization will host a special public meeting at 7 p.m. today to discuss school safety, with input from Superintendent Traci Hostetler and police Sgt. Brian Moore, who also serves on the board of education.

The meeting will take place in the elementary building library.

Moore said the district has instituted some new safety procedures in the past few weeks and school staff have been trained in ALICE, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evaluate.

ALICE is training especially for active shooter situations, with a focus on keeping a shooter out of a classroom through lockdown procedures.

PTO vice-president Ashley McKim said the organization wanted to use its meeting as an opportunity to talk about safety, since several parents have shared concerns in light of the school violence across the country.

She said each of the school buildings have been conducting drills all month, and that teachers participated in special training recently.

The district implemented a two-hour delay for classes for the training, she said.

She went on to say that the district will begin holding more safety drills.

“They are being proactive and have the kids aware of what to do,” she said.

Hostetler said the district has been, and will continue, to work with the local police department.

“Most of us are parents, too. We understand how scary it is to send children off each day and we take our role in each child’s safety very seriously. It has, and will continue to be, our top priority,” she said.

She went on to say that the district has trained its staff utilizing various scenarios and that students have been trained differently at each grade level.

“We have trained our staff … and have empowered them to make decisions based on the unique circumstances in order to provide the safest choices for our kids if there is ever a need,” she said.

In addition, she said the district has reached out to parents after the training sessions to encourage dialog at home and to nurture the home and school safety connection.

Moore said he wants parents to know that the district and police department are doing everything they can to ensure that their children are safe while entrusted to East Palestine schools.