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South Tama Schools:Superintendent’s Comments

October 25, 2017
By Jeff Berger , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Keeping your kids safe is always a priority for us. So when parents hear of a potential threat at the school, emotions run high and rightly so. There is nothing that generates more worry than a threat to your child's safety.

On Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, a threat of this nature was made. Schools have emergency procedures for this type of thing and we implemented our procedures as we practiced them.Law enforcement officials were immediately involved and all rumor and allegations were quickly and properly investigated. It was determined on that Friday that the threat was not credible. And in the process, we dealt with the student appropriately. We never felt like students were in danger in this situation based on the work we did with the situation directly and on the ground.

But life is full of lessons learned. One of my learning moments came Monday morning when I had a series of calls from parents and community members concerned with additional threats, lack of information, and worrying about what had and had not occurred.

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Jeff Berger
South Tama Superintendent

Hindsight is 20-20 and in this case, I should have done some general broadcasting of better information sooner. Trust me when I say I will adjust my approach moving forward. The lack of information flow created an opportunity for all of the rumors and conversations to take on a life of their own. Had everyone had better information directly from the schools, it likely would have helped keep some of the speculation about the situation in check.

I'm grateful for the calls and concerns. It is through your urging that we reevaluated our processes and will make changes to our routines. Feedback like this is necessary. And please, in the future, if you are on the receiving end of any information that causes concern, please make sure the school and law enforcement know. There were scenarios in this last event where allegations were made, but the school wasn't aware of the information. To be effective in how we manage these situations, we must be in the know.

Some of the additional adjustments we plan to make include the following items: 1) reviewing access points in each building to ensure that doors are properly secured and we are controlling who comes and goes in each building; 2) beefing up our emergency plan and providing staff members with some form of ALICE training intended to address armed threats; 3) adding security cameras and making sure all spaces used by students (including athletics facilities) are secured; 4) developing a communication plan for situations like these to ensure quick and accurate relaying of information.

Thank again for your patience and expressing your concerns. I'm grateful that this situation passed without incident.

On a lighter note, if you are interested in joining either our School Improvement Advisory Committee or a new long-term facilities planning committee, there is still time. On both committees, I am looking for a range of representatives and opinions. Both groups will meet somewhere in the range of monthly to quarterly, so while this is a commitment, we hope to keep it manageable.

And please don't forget to mark November 7 and 9 (T and Th) for Parent/Teacher/Student Conferences. All staff members in all buildings will be present for conferences from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. each day. There is no school on Friday, November 10.

As always, let me know if you have any comments or concerns. My email is jberger@s-tama.k12.ia.us and my phone is 641-484-4811.

Again, thanks for your continued support of STC schools!

 
 

 

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