Stefanik updates BOE on student safety


TIPP CITY — The Tipp City Board of Education heard from Superintendent Mark Stefanik and Dr. Lisa Tuttle-Huff Monday evening regarding how administration plans to review and amend safety protocols for the district during its January work session.

With recent events at Tippecanoe Middle School, including an emergency board meeting that resulted from the school shooting threat made on Dec. 7, 2022, and the apparent lack of communication between the school administrators and the community, Stefanik promised to look into the district’s safety plans and protocols.

As part of Stefanik’s plan to review and modify safety protocols for the Tipp City Schools District, he presented a plan of action outlined by himself and Tuttle-Huff to the board of education.

Stefanik and Tuttle-Huff presented multiple ways they are planning to improve the district’s safety plans and protocols. They plan to do a complete review of the entire district’s plans and are bringing in safety experts from nearby school districts to help with the review process. Through their review, they plan to ensure that there is a consistency throughout the district.

“We’re also looking at daily operations and protocols there that can enhance the safety of each of our buildings. So we’re creating staff expectation lists and calling together our safety team, we have a meeting scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday, Jan. 10.),” said Stefanik.

“We are reviewing all communication protocols and making sure that we have those on the agenda as well as the threat assessment protocols and making sure that we follow a model that the ODE (Ohio Department of Education) has given us for that,” said Tuttle-Huff.

Tuttle-Huff also mentioned an increase in personal development for teachers. There are also currently increased police presences at the district buildings as well as ongoing communications with teachers to practice hyper-vigilance. Lastly, Tuttle-Huff noted the majority of factors involved in school district safety plans and protocols are not a matter of public record, but they plan to share all of the information they can.

Stefanik wrote a release to parents on Jan. 4 that stated, “When the district first learned of a student’s threat against another student, the administrative team followed disciplinary procedures and levied consequences, which included removing the student from the campus. The district also filed a police report and notified the parents of the student who was threatened. Student disciplinary records, however, are protected as education records under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, commonly referred to as FERPA. Although FERPA allows the district to release student information without parental consent in limited circumstances, FERPA does not allow a school district to release a student’s educational information, including disciplinary consequences, unless the parent has consented in writing to such release. As such, it is unlawful for the district to disclose the name of a student who has been disciplined or describe that discipline.”

“The safety of our students and staff is the primary concern of the district,” Stefanik’s release continued.

Tipp City Schools District has taken the following steps to ensure the district maintains the highest safety level for students: They are utilizing district administrators for extra supervision at schools during arrival and dismissal times and are discussing an increase in police presence at the school sites during arrival and dismissal times and throughout the day with the Tipp City Police Department. The district will inform the community when the plan for a larger police presence is finalized.

The district is also considering options for obtaining full-time School Resource Officers and will continue to assess and revise the district’s current safety plans.

“The district does not take threats or threatening language lightly. As mentioned above, consequences have occurred related to this incident. At any point, with this incident or any incident, if student and staff safety is at risk, we will close schools and cancel classes. If any member of our community becomes aware of threats against the district’s students, employees, or others, please notify a district administrator immediately. I appreciate those who have contacted me with concerns and suggestions,” Stefanik stated in his letter to parents.

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