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Incident at school prompts changes

October 2, 2012
Staff Report , The Inter-Mountain

Midland Elementary School officials said they have installed new precautionary measures following a Sept. 21 incident that is being investigated by Elkins City Police.

In a recent letter sent home with Midland students, Principal Melinda J. Akers told parents "please be assured that protocol was followed and that I have been working closely with both the superintendent's office and the Elkins City Police."

Dr. James Phares, the Randolph County superintendent of schools, told The Inter-Mountain no one was injured in the incident, and said it was most likely a misunderstanding. However, the situation still is being investigated by the city police.

"Information on the matter will be released upon the completion of the (police) investigation," Akers wrote in her letter to parents.

Educators are using the incident as an opportunity to increase safety precautions at the school.

"The safety of our students is of the utmost concern to me and the members of the Midland staff," Akers wrote. "Precautionary measures have been put in place to help protect our students."

Phares said the incident showed officials some security gaps that have since been corrected.

"We used it as an early warning sign that our security needs to be tightened up," Phares said. "At the school level, I met immediately with the faculty to go through safety protocols."

Phares said the teachers were reminded during the meeting that all students need to be within a teacher's sight at all times.

He also said three action steps have been taken. First, Midland is installing a security lock with a magnetic card-swipe system on the back side of the building near the playground. With the new system, children can be brought back inside through the back door, without having to return to the front of the building.

Second, staff members let the students involved in the incident know they did exactly what they were supposed to do, which was to notify their teacher if they saw something or someone unusual.

Third, Phares also reminded the staff to stay vigilant.

"Randolph County Schools is taking all steps to ensure the safety of the students at Midland and in other schools in the county," Akers wrote to parents.



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