Vermilion Local Schools News Article

Safety Forum Update

Safe Schools

Approximately 275 people attended the Community Safety Forum held Sunday, March 4, 2018 at Vermilion High School.  Those in attendance represented a diverse mix of students, parents, teachers, business leaders, law enforcement, and community members.  
Following a brief presentation of the school safety procedures current in place by Superintendent Phil Pempin, the group was divided into fourteen round table groups.  Each group was given 30 minutes to discuss mutually identify their top recommendation for improving safety in the Vermilion schools.  At the end of the round table discussion session, ideas and suggestions were collected by the administrative team and assembled into these categories: 

Building Update Suggestions

  • Evaluate where safety improvements can be made
  • Entrance at SMS needs secondary security

Personnel Additions

  • SRO in every building
  • Full time people to monitor the security cameras
  • Utilize community volunteers, outside groups for support
  • Additional Counselor/Social Worker at VES
  • District Social Worker
  • Mental health provider

Safety Precautions

  • Improve monitoring of entrances
  • More lock down drills
  • Better communication for lock down drills
  • No phones for students during the school day
  • More communication between teachers and parents, schools to parents

Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

  • Community, student and family education on mental health
  • Mental Health training, signs of depression, anger, early signs of substance abuse, signs of loneliness, isolation
  • Trust each other, feel safe at school, increased “Buddy System”
  • Move2Stand, Peer Leadership (wear badges so students can identify student support members)
  • Mentoring for high school students, “no one sits alone”
  • Teach skills, how to be a friend, social skills, and give and take conversations
  • Direct instruction starting at an early age and reach every grade on topics such as bullying, social media, sexual assault
  • Professional Development for identifying warning signs (Social Emotional Curriculum)
  • Staff be more engaged and visible to students at all times

A meeting with an administrative team was held on Wednesday, March 4 to review each idea, and began the work of obtaining estimated costs, and setting a realistic timeline for purchase, installation or implementation.  The Superintendent and Treasurer will use this information to make recommendations to the Board at their April 9, 2018 meeting.  The recommendations will include items that can be completed within the current budget, and/or the need to place a safety levy on the ballot for voter approval.  

Superintendent Pempin emphasized to the group that everyone, but especially parents, must be involved in creating a safe school environment.  Parents must partner with schools to learn the facts about safety, social media and mental health topics, and discuss them with their children.  Mr. Pempin announced that the district will offer quarterly meetings, known as “Parent University” where counselors and administrators will share and discuss information on the following topics, as identified at the Safety Forum: 

Parent help is needed if we are to succeed! 

Reporting suspicious behaviors (See Something-Say Something)

Bullying (definition of what bullying is and school response)

Mental Health Challenges

Cell Phone and social media use by students (positive and negatives)

Suicide Prevention (Signs to look for and how to report)

Peer Pressure/School Clicks

Academic Anxiety

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