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From the Superintendent's Desk...

In the wake of the most recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Ravenna Public Schools Administration has fielded questions about what our response during an act of school violence would be.  The simple, straightforward question offered to the school’s administration has been, “Do we have a plan?”


The simple answer to that question is, “Yes. We have a plan.”


During the fall of 2016, the Ravenna Public Schools Administrative Team coordinated with the Ravenna Police Department, Ravenna EMS/Fire, and the Buffalo County Sheriff’s Office to develop and “Active Shooter Response Protocol”.  The protocol that was developed through this collaborative effort is a clear and detailed response of how our agencies would work together, in the event of an active shooter on the school property.  For very obvious reasons, we do not publicly disseminate the plan.  However, I can assure you that the plan is detailed and thorough enough to provide clear guidance and a division of responsibility to emergency responders, school staff, students, and school administration, in the event of an active shooter.


After developing the “Active Shooter Protocol” with the assistance of the Ravenna EMS/Fire, the Ravenna Police Department, and the Buffalo County Sheriff’s Office, a Nebraska State Patrolman, who has been specially trained in eliminating active shooters, trained the Ravenna Public Schools teaching and support staff.  During this training, the patrolman educated the Ravenna Public School Staff on active shooters and active shooter incidents from around the nation.  Following a presentation to the staff on active shooter information, the patrolman did a “walk and talk” in front of the school’s staff in full tactical gear with a “dummy weapon,” enacting how he would come into the school building during an active shooter event and eliminate the active shooter.  During this “walk and talk,” the patrolmen talked aloud through his thought process and actions for staff to observe.  The staff was encouraged to ask questions of the officer during and after the “walk and talk” presentation.


To greater facilitate accessible, multi-modal communication during an active shooter event, every staff member has installed a mobile app on their cell phone known as “Crisis Go”.  This mobile app allows teachers and support staff to instantly and easily send a panic message and open a two-way communication link with the school administration, in the event of an active shooter or crisis situation.  School staff are also trained on how to immediately notify everyone in the building of an active shooter threat, by using the school’s phone system, which has the capacity to simultaneously page all classrooms and areas of the building during a crisis event.  Additionally, this summer, the school will be upgrading its intercom system to further enhance the staff’s ability to communicate during a crisis event.


There is an old adage that the best offense is a good defense.  The same holds true for protecting against school violence.  The best way to prevent against school violence is to be proactive and to identify, assess, and eliminate threats of school violence before they happen.  To that end, members of the school’s administrative team recently attended a two-day training on threat assessment.  This training was conducted by Dr. Mario Scalora.  Dr. Scalaro regularly consults with the Lincoln Police Department and Lincoln Public Schools for the purpose of threat assessment.   He has also consulted with the FBI and the CIA regarding threat assessment.  He is an expert in his field, and he is an excellent educator.


During the training, Dr. Scalaro provided Ravenna Administrators with a clear, systematic guide for evaluating school safety threats, specifically those who may represent an active shooter threat.  There were many valuable skills and ideas taken away for this training.  But there was one resounding truth this expert shared that I want to share with the patrons, parents, and the public.  That simple truth is that in every school shooting, the shooter always told others of his intent.  In other words, at least one other person besides the shooter knew the shooter was emotionally motivated, equipped with weapons, planning to act violently, and capable of exacting violence upon a school.  The most recent shooting in Parkland, Florida, is a prime example of this fact.  Several people reported this young man to law enforcement as someone who posed a legitimate threat to school safety. 


I would encourage you to report anyone who you think is a threat to school safety to the school’s administration.  Ravenna Public Schools has a solid working relationship with the Ravenna Police Department and with the Buffalo County Sheriff’s Office.  Both of these entities have been wonderfully cooperative and wonderfully responsive whenever the school has needed assistance in assessing or responding to threats of school safety.


Remember, the best offense is a good defense.  I encourage you to please report any suspicious or potentially threatening activity you become aware of to the school’s administration immediately, so that we can aggressively go on the offensive and thoroughly investigate, assess, and eliminate threats to school safety.




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