Change to Solon Schools’ security policy

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Change to Solon Schools’ security policy

Melissa Ellin, Editor in Chief

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The Solon Board of Education Feb. 25 approved a five-year agreement between the City of Solon and the Solon City School District to enhance security measures in the schools by adding two full-time equivalent officers to cover the seven schools in the district.

Currently, there are no permanent police officers specifically assigned to work in the Solon Schools. This agreement allows for two officers to spend the entire school day patrolling the seven school buildings to increase security on a daily basis.

“The schools are part of Solon Police Department’s (SPD) regular patrol and that won’t change,” said Solon Schools Communications Director Tamara Strom. “So, for students and staff in the buildings, it will look similar to what they see now, just with more frequency.”

Solon Police is now able to begin the planning and logistics of the agreement, including the hiring of two additional officers to compensate for the two who will be patrolling the schools.

“It’s hopeful that it starts by the beginning of next school year, but that’s dependent on the police department,” said Solon Schools’ Security Director Jeff Pedicino.

As for who will be assigned and what exactly a work day will look like for the officers, SPD will be managing that.

“The police department is handling how, when and where they will be assigned,” Pedicino said. “They’ll have police cars, and they’ll go to all the buildings throughout the day.”

Due to safety and security reasons, Ohio Law keeps confidential further specifics of the officers’ jobs. This includes their daily schedules and the weapons they will carry.

“The specifics of the officers’ assignments and tactical equipment used are part of the security procedures and are not discussed publicly for the protection of students, staff and visitors in the buildings,” Strom said.

The enhancements being made expand other collaborations already in place between Solon Police and Fire and Solon Schools.

“The additional police presence in our schools is an adjunct to the existing critical support provided to the schools by Solon safety forces, such as law enforcement, D.A.R.E. education, fire, emergency medical and specialized response teams,” Strom sent in an email to the families of Solon students. “It is the logical next step in the ongoing safety and security planning the district has done over many years and we believe that doing so in partnership with the Solon safety forces, who know our schools, students and community best, is the most prudent way to proceed.”

Additionally, the proposal resulted from continuous planning and discussions regarding school security.

“It’s part of our overall planning for safety in the buildings, so that’s ongoing all the time, so this specific proposal, there’s not a time stamp on when it started,” Strom said. “We’re always asking ‘What do we need to keep doing to make sure that we’re doing all that we can for our buildings to be safe?’”

BOE consent was the last step in finalizing the agreement. Prior to the Board action, City Council unanimously approved the agreement on Feb. 19.

Solon High School (SHS) Principal Erin Short sees the change as a way to make Solon Schools as safe as possible.

“I think our ultimate goal, and how we look at safety in the district is creating a safe learning environment for our students and staff, period,” Short said. “That’s the foundation of everything we do, so anything we can do to continue to do that is what the district will do.”

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