Bellefontaine Examiner

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Issues with school safety raised

To whom it may concern:

Do you have elementary age children in Bellefontaine City Schools? If so, you may want to continue reading. I, as well as many residents of Bellefontaine, have two children currently attending elementary school. For two years I have argued the policies enforced by our schools. Specifically, the policy on how our children are dismissed each day. Like a herd of sheep, they open the gates and release them into the open field. Optimistically hoping they will return to their rightful shepherds. The school says, this teaches them independence and many parents have complained they shouldn’t have to get out of their vehicles. Does this sound insane to anyone else? Maybe I’m just crazy, but I doubt it.

My concerns are what will happen if I’m late one day? What if a classmate’s parent kindly offers them a ride home? Or worse, what if someone with bad intentions succeeds in convincing them to go with them? So I voiced my concerns to the principal and the superintendent. The principal’s response, “If it makes you feel better, we’ve never had such an incident.” Both responded, “Our policy is not going to change.” Have you heard the saying, “There’s a first time for everything?” I’m sure most would agree, I don’t want my child to be that first.

After the recent tragedies, you would come to suspect that all schools are reviewing their policies and procedures. However, Bellefontaine City Schools seem to think that theirs are just fine and there is no need for change. I feel very differently, as I hope you may. After an interview on television of a former FBI agent, in which he gave tips of school safety and how all schools need to look into their security; a light bulb went off.

To prove my point of the possible outcome of this policy, I decided to send my brother to the school to pick up my children unannounced. I chose him for a couple of reasons. One, I was sure no one at the school knew who he was because he has never been there before. Two, he has more than a dozen tattoos on his neck and arms, piercings in his face, and one inch holes in his ears. Sounds like someone who would be hard to miss in an elementary school setting right? Wrong! Not only did he roam the hall without question, he waited inside the school in front of the office for my children to be released. Guess what happened next? He walked right outside that school with my kindergartner and first-grader, without a single word said.

Are you as outraged as I am? This could have been any one of your children. A predator can walk into our school at any time and harm our children. The one place we are comfortable leaving our children. The one place we thought they were safe.

For those who may be wondering, my children are very smart and they know what to do if approached by a stranger. We remind them of the constant dangers of the world regularly and how to deal with such. With that said, all parents are not as attentive and all children do not listen and learn the same. So the responsibilities falls to our schools to insure our children return safely to us each day.

Did you know:

80,000 children are abducted across America each year?

2,185 children are abducted in the U.S. every single day?

In Ohio alone there are 2,000 elementary schools and:

19,000 sex offenders?

5,000 children are abducted into human trafficking each year?

46 children are currently missing in Ohio?

Now, tell me is it to outlandish to think that our schools are not as safe as they would like us to believe? That may be, just maybe we should look into our current policies? I cannot do this alone, please help me keep our children safe. A short call to our superintendent or school could make a huge difference. I know it’s unrealistic to think about every parent trying to pick up every student all at the same time. However, with all the educated people in our school district, I’m sure they could come up with one good idea. Thank you for your time and I appreciate any help with the cause.

BCS Superintendent Office 937-593-9060

Northeastern Elementary 937-599-4431

Southeastern Elementary 937-599-4331

Jennifer L. Johnson

Bellefontaine

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