PRIEST RIVER — West Bonner County School Board trustees have begun the process of revamping the district’s school safety policies.
The Dec. 18 board meeting started with a moment of silence in the wake of the recent shooting in Connecticut, which set the stage for the passing of two motions that deal directly with school safety.
A somber group of trustees easily passed the use of honor guard ceremonial rifles on campus and, although hesitant, also approved the first reading of a policy that would train staff members in the use of restraint, seclusion and adversive techniques for students.
Under the urging of WBCSD Dr. Ellen Perconti and with backing from local police officers present, trustees decided it was time to review and rewrite district policy pertaining to students who need to be restrained or removed from classrooms.
Policy 3345, which deals with the use of restraints, seclusion and adversive techniques for students, was approved under its’ first reading with the intention of getting the policy in place before doing revisions. The policy would provide two levels of training for staff members; four to eight hours of de-escalation training, and training in physical restraint and removal from the classroom.
Trustees had mixed opinions on the policy but seemed to be in agreement that a policy does need to be in place.
Trustee Phil Hixson noted the limitations to a teacher when dealing with one student who becomes a disruption to the entire class, and likened his stance to that of a courtroom.
“If someone is being disruptive in a courtroom the judge takes them out of the room,” he said.
However, trustee Wade Coldiron said the policy could open a can of worms by asking teachers to do something he said they aren’t adequately trained to do.
The first reading of policy 3345 was approved.
There was less debate on the use of honor guard ceremonial rifles on campus.
Joe English, Priest River Veterans of Foreign Wars post commander, was on hand to reassure the board that not only are the members of the Honor Guard prior military and experts in handling weapons, but that the government-issued weapons themselves have been decommissioned and deemed safe with no way of firing.
English presented the trustees with samples of live and blank ammunition as well as reiterating that the weapons are never fired inside of a building.
The honor guard attends school during the welcome back day for staff, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day.
English added that the honor guard always works closely with local law enforcement whether on a campus or during escorts and funeral ceremonies.
The next West Bonner County School Board meeting is set for Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 6 p.m. at the district office.
Meetings are open to the public.