SPPS has a new safety policy
February 2, 2016
Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.
Email This Story
With the growth of violence in St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS), Harding and other schools in the district are taking steps to ensure school safety, including the implementation of new rules in order to improve safety at all SPPS schools.
Following recent events at Saint Paul Public Schools, especially at Central with a teacher being choked, the safety policy at SPPS was almost certain to change. Superintendent Valeria Silva recently highlighted the new rules and goals for ensuring safety at SPPS. Some of the new ideas in the initiative include building connections between students and staff, strengthening training for school resource officers, nonviolent crisis intervention and many more.
Duane Dutrieuille, an associate principal at Harding, is looking forward to developing new ways to assure safety at the school. “We’re looking at having new safety initiatives,” said Mr. Dutrieuille. “One of the components of that is training school resource officers on how to be more of a community advocate and support some student needs.”
The district has also looked at trying to send its own resources to schools in order to improve safety. They’ve been looking at sending additional staff to come and support the schools. Schools like Central High have had community ambassadors that came out to help in the hallway and help students get to class on time.
Mr. Dutrieuille also highlighted how important it is to prevent crises from developing and stopping them from an early stage. “One of the critical things we should look at is the preventative aspect of crisis and identifying the cause of the crisis before it happening,” said Mr. Dutrieuille. “If a student is a in a dire situation, and we have a counselor or staff member who is aware of that and would be able to help that student out in that process, it would help when it gets to a situation that is critical. That student can go to that staff member because the relationship is already built. It’s critical because if a student knows that an adult in this building cares about them, then the the likelihood of them going to that adult is very high versus if you feel like you’re isolated by yourself, then when you come into an incident, you’re going to take matters into your own hands.”
One student, who wished to remain anonymous, supported the idea of increasing school resource officers. “I think it’s a great idea to have a bit more staff here at Harding,” the student said. “With more staff we can keep the conflicts here at Harding to a low.”
There is a list of rules, rights and responsibilities in the Student Behavior Handbook that students in the school district are expected to read. Chou Chang, another assistant principal at Harding, believes that these rules should be updated every once in awhile. “We need to be more specific on these rules,” said Mr. Chang. “As time goes by, we should change some rules. We should add new ones and remove old ones.”
Mr. Chang also emphasized the need for training for School Resource Officers. “Security Guards around SPPS are not trained to carry a taser, gun or handcuffs,” said Mr. Chang. “If a fight breaks out, we can point to tell the security guards to help us out. They can only use physical force. If they were to react and use force upon a student without staff permission then they are liable,” said Mr. Chang.
Mr. Chang also said that students at Harding have more freedom than those at many schools. “Back when I was in Chicago, they had special tags for us,” he said. “They tracked us with those tags. A school I went during the summer had metal detectors at the front of the school. No school in the St.Paul School District has metal detectors.”
Osman Sesay, a junior at Harding, said he has been pleased with the safety policy at Harding throughout his high school career. “I’ve never encountered where my safety is in jeopardy here at Harding,” said Osman. “As far as I’m concerned the Harding High School staff are doing their job in terms of safety.”
Osman said he believes Harding students are getting better at developing nonviolent behavior. “It seems like every year the students learn to develop a less violent way of making the hallway safer for everyone,” he said. “From my perspective anyone that intends to bring threat or violence to the school should be treated the way they are being treated. The staff has done a great job.”
One new feature intended to improve SPPS safety is the MySPPS App. The app is available in the Appstore and Google Play Store and is basically a new way to report safety concerns. Students, parents, staff and families can send tips through the app. It’s a way to share concerns or help someone in need. The app will also prevent a lot of students from using their iPad for social media instead of educational purposes.
SPPS is also offering courses that can help you develop new skills for handling difficult situations. Course topics include nonviolent crisis intervention, bullying and suicide prevention, and more.