Lakota Local Schools is taking additional measures to further boost safety in its schools throughout West Chester and Liberty townships.
The school system — the largest district in Butler County and the biggest suburban district in Southwest Ohio — is partnering with the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Public Safety to offer the SaferOH tip line, a 24-hour way for concerned students, parents and residents to share safety information with school officials and authorities.
“The safety and security of our schools is always our number one priority at Lakota,” said Superintendent Matthew Miller. “The tip line is another way we can learn about potential threats to student safety before they happen.”
The calls and texts are answered by analysts in the Threat Assessment and Prevention Unit of Ohio’s Homeland Security department.
“Members of our community, adults and students, can remain anonymous when they report a threat to our schools or an individual student,” said Chris Passarge, Lakota’s chief operations officer. “Information received through a phone call or text is assessed and then forwarded to local law enforcement and school officials.”
The Threat Assessment and Prevention Unit will also follow up to ensure that each incident has been investigated, Passarge said.
The SaferOH tip line — 844-SaferOH — is available free of charge to any Ohio school district, including both public and private schools.
Posters with the phone number will be placed in school buildings.
“We teach our students that if they see something that looks suspicious, they should say something to a trusted adult,” Miller said. “This is another way to alert the proper authorities.”
The tip line isn’t the only new safety and security measure being launched by the district.
Raptor, a new visitor management system, will require all visitors to have their driver’s license scanned upon entering school buildings to undergo an instant background check. A more comprehensive check will be performed for volunteers who work independently with students.
The new security measure will replace the previously required background check through the Bureau of Criminal Investigations.
Miller said the district’s safety team meets regularly to review safety protocols for the 16,900-student district.
“Our safety plans are never done,” he said. “We are always looking for ways to make them better so our students and staff are safe.”