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Wyoming Surveys K-12 Principals

Wyoming State Superintendent Jillian Balow is making an effort to better understand how the state’s 48 school districts’ are protecting their students. I know what you’re thinking. Wyoming is rural and that’s the last place an incident would happen at a school. I know The Cowboy State has a rural atmosphere in some places—I grew up there.

School principals were emailed a survey of 20 questions, including what threat assessment tools they are using; what training they undergo; how the school secures their entrances and other security–related topics.

“The intent of the survey is to take the temperature on what is happening statewide,” Balow said. “We’re reaching to every school to find the sweet spot and establish a policy and set a baseline for campus security. Our goal is to begin a discussion statewide on a threat assessment. Every school has a threat assessment; we just want to see what various schools have in place.

“We understand that there is no silver bullet; our goal is the well-being and safety of every student.”

School districts in Wyoming vary in population and school size, as you might expect, so one district is most certainly not deploying what another district might have in place. The concern at the state level has been a topic of discussion in the state legislation, and the Department of Education. Two mass school shootings in 2018, in Santa Fe, Texas and in Parkland, Florida, have prompted Balow and her staff to move forward, in addition to an incident where a student brought a loaded weapon to a Gillette, Wyoming school.

“The state is very diverse in terms of campus population,” Balow said. “Some schools are small and there may be a cop that stops by once a day, but we have much larger schools where there might be a school resource office in the building. That is why the threat assessment is the entry point of our discussion.

“As a parent, educator and state leader it is important to take control and have these important discussions. We simply can’t just talk about gun control. We have to start with student safety and well-being.”

I applaud Superintendent Balow for her continuing efforts and her press for improved school security. Following the results of her survey, Balow said she will present them publicly, which she said will help inform both her department’s security guidelines and potential future legislation. No doubt, all states are grappling with this issue. Good security measures will offer peace of mind and create a baseline of security protocols. Policymakers must have a clearer idea of what is being offered, and what will help fill their gaps for an effective campus solution.

This article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.

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