Omaha Public School District holds "Safety Summit" to learn how to better protect students

Posted at 7:00 AM, May 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-31 08:00:48-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — It's a common topic between parents, teachers and school staff. That topic: how to keep students safe while they are at school.

So, the Nebraska Department of Education surveyed students at one of the largest school districts, Omaha Public School District, to see if they felt safe at school; 96.1% said they feel safe at school. But the district is hoping to increase that percentage.

For the first time the Omaha Public School District decided to host a safety summit. OPS superintendent Dr. Cheryl Logan said the need to make safety a top priority came after one of her first visits to Omaha. One week after the Parkland, Fla. shooting. "Our senior team was having a meeting and they were gonna focus on safety, and I will tell you, it was not our finest hour,” said Dr. Logan.

To change that she invited teachers and staff district wide along with community partners to a day of learning. Learning how OPS was going to keep everyone safe at school. “There is an expectation and a rightful expectation of our community that we have those similar expectations throughout our district,” said Dr. Logan.

They are doing this by assembling a threat assessment team. Made up of school counselors, teachers, school resource officers and case managers. “The purpose of the threat assessment is to bring multi-disciplinary, to get multiple disciplinaries together to get interventions and responses in place for students who need it and to ensure safety of the building,” said OPS School Safety Supervisor, Donnie Morrison.

And the threat assessment team will follow certain protocol district wide to make sure every threat is handled the same way, in three steps. First the team will gather factual information to determine the level of the threat. Second the team will meet to put the interventions and assistance in place. Third the students will receive the determined assistance. “It's really important that if we want to get to the core of issue that we help compassionately not just the student but also supporting our entire team,” said OPS School Counselor Supervisor, Kathryn Hecht-Weber.

And ultimately help students not just feel safe but cared for at school. “We know knowing our kids is the most important,” said Dr. Logan.

OPS leaders stress that everyone in a school setting is instrumental in preventing threats from turning into reality. And they encouraged everyone to "see something... do something".