Wisconsin District Implements New, Stricter Security Protocols After Fights

Wisconsin District Implements New, Stricter Security Protocols After Fights

The Verona Area School District is implementing a stricter security and safety plan, following a series of fights that resulted in 18 students being suspended from school.

A series of fights last week at Verona High School in Verona, Wis., resulted in 18 students being suspended from school. In the wake of these fights, the district has released a stricter security plan, outlined in a letter sent to district parents by Verona Area School District Superintendent Dean Gorrell.

“Probably the biggest thing that's going to look different is that next year we've created three positions that are going to be filled at our high school as security campus support assistance,” said Jason Olson, Director of Human Resources and Safety at Verona Area School District.

Beginning this fall, the high school will be monitored by three trained security guards, as well as staff members during passing periods. There will also be an anonymous tip line accessible 24/7.

District administrators say they want to improve communication, noting that they didn’t release updates on the fight situation as quickly as they could have. According to Gorrell, the communication system fell short because the staff in charge of the process were pulled away to assist with the high number of incidents in a short period of time.

"I can absolutely assure you that the lessons learned on Thursday will be used to ensure that the lack of timely and on-going communication will not happen again,” Gorrell wrote. "We have now reassigned tasks, changed our protocols, and created built-in system backups to ensure we don't leave our staff, students and parents in the dark in the future," the letter said.

The district plans to implement a more rigid set of communication guidelines in order to disseminate new and accurate information as quickly as possible.

According to Gorrell, the new security protocols will include a new fight intervention protocol in place beginning fall 2019. The high school will have a response team trained in the protocol, who will work to prevent student and staff injuries and minimizing law enforcement intervention.

In his letter, Gorrell said the district will implement the following measures to “better ensure the safety of our students and staff moving forward.”

• The district will hire three full-time security assistants starting for the 2019-20 school year. Gorrell said they anticipated adding these positions for the new high school, but they are now moving up their start dates.

• The district will put an anonymous tip line in place so students can report incidents or threats without fear of retaliation.

• Staff will be present in the hallways during passing time between classes.

• The district will continue to offer social emotional support groups for students, as well as encourage proactive conflict resolution.

• Another staff member will be stationed at the high school visitor entrance with a radio during the lunch hour.

• If a parent or family member arrives at school in response to their student's involvement in a dispute or behavioral matter, only the individuals listed in the PowerSchool database will be allowed to enter the school.

• Suspended students must complete a re-entry meeting with high school administration, and possibly other programs, prior to readmission.

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