CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Now that school is back in session for Cincinnati Public Schools’ 36,000 students, the district’s superintendent and the city’s police chief took the opportunity Friday to speak about school security and pedestrian safety.
“Making our young people safe is always our main priority,” Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Issac said.
Earlier this month, CPS rolled out its new three-year strategic plan, with one of the five goals meant to address the health and safety of students.
“That goal centers around reducing critical incidents in our schools, providing additional services for our mental health for the social and emotional well being of our kids, but also for our staff members as well,” Cincinnati Public Schools Superintendent Laura Mitchell said.
One of the ways teachers and faculty will be able to monitor students’ mental health and safety is through a computer program called Gaggle Safety Management G Suite.
Superintendent Mitchell says the program can look at what students write in terms of the language. Gaggle Safety representatives will be able to monitor controls including 24/7 content analysis and review.
The district also plans to increase the number of school social workers from 26 to 35 by the end of the school year, reaching 52 social workers by 2021-2022.
Two years ago, the superintendent created a Safety Task Force comprised of law enforcement and safety officials from local and regional organizations to advise district officials on best practices to improve the safety and security at CPS.
Each one of the schools has a school resource officer that helps make sure certain situations do not result in arrest.
“One of the things we’ve known about our school resource officers is that they don’t make a lot of arrests,” Chief Isaac said. “They are able to find other ways to resolve those situations before they escalate to a point where someone needs to be arrested.”
In addition, Lobby Guard machines will help improve school safety.
Mitchell says when a visitor enters any one of the schools, they are to provide identification. A quick background check is then run on the visitor. If a red flag pops up on the machine, then the person is not permitted to enter the building.
Another one of the issues addressed during Friday’s press conference was the safety of pedestrians.
Mitchell said in 2018 at least 10 CPS students were hit by cars. Some of them were fatal including the hit-skip that killed 15-year-old Gabby Rodriguez.
Gabby was struck by two separate vehicles on Harrison Ave. on Sep. 10, 2017. Police are still looking for the driver of a white Toyota Corolla. The driver of the second vehicle stopped and cooperated with authorities.
“We want to make sure that every school is a safe zone and we are focusing on pedestrian safety and reducing speed," Chief Issac said. “Not only speed, but distracted driving around our schools.”
On Thursday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine issued an executive order creating a specialized division of Ohio Homeland Security devoted exclusively to the safety of Ohio’s students and schools.
The Ohio School Safety Center will assist local schools and law enforcement in preventing, preparing for, and responding to threats and acts of violence, including self-harm, through a holistic, solutions-based approach to improving school safety.