Wapak schools plan waiver day for safety training

Wapakoneta City Schools administrators elected to use a special waiver day granted by the state to train staff on school safety.

Students are not to attend school on Friday, May 17, so staff throughout the district may receive updated training with the Wapakoneta Police Department and Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office.

Since the waiver day was approved by the Ohio Department of Education, it counts as a day students are in session. They were originally scheduled to attend class that day.

Wapakoneta City Schools Superintendent Keith Horner said they are still in the planning stages regarding training specifics.

“We want to do this training for all our personnel, we just aren’t sure how we will divide it up yet,” Horner said.

He said he requested such a waiver day last year, but it was not granted by the state, which required the focus of the training to be education.

“That all changed after Newtown, (Connecticut),” Horner said, referring to a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School during which 20 children and six staff members were killed in December.

Horner said waiver days have been used by the district occasionally through the years and this was an issue they felt was important to address with such a training.

He said school officials have been meeting regularly since the school shooting to discuss security. They selected the May date for a training because it comes after students have completed all their required state testing for the year.

The superintendent explained since the Connecticut shooting he promised that the district would continue to work to improve safety measures and plans at the schools.

“The best thing that can come out of this is we can get better from this particular situation,” Horner said during a community meeting in December. “We can feel a little bit more secure, and perhaps take some steps that will help us in the future be more safe and keep our boys and girls more safe.”

Wapakoneta Police Chief Russ Hunlock said it is their job to try and stop a situation while it is happening or prevent it from occurring and they are working side-by-side with school officials and other agencies in the county to continuously improve school safety.