Cynthia Forsythe is a firm believer in every student feeling safe at school.
She wants school personnel to be confident in their abilities to assure safety at school, and she wants parents to trust that their children are well protected.
Forsythe, the Franklin County district administrator over school safety, has spent the past 18 months working with the State Department of Education’s school safety task force.
The group’s efforts to evaluate the most effective safety strategies for Alabama schools has resulted in a new four-pronged plan that is being unrolled this school year.
Franklin County students returned to the classroom Wednesday.
“Safety has always been important, but it has to be the top priority,” Forsythe said.
“We’re training everyone — the teachers and staff, the cafeteria workers, the bus drivers and the students. Our district right now is really on top of this effort to implement top safety procedures.”
The Franklin system is among the first in the state to train its personnel and students.
The initial step is heightened awareness. Employees must understand the potential may exist for an unusual situation, and they should be prepared to react. It includes limited movement to and from the classroom; accountability for all students; checking the security of external doors; and watching for unusual behavior inside and outside the school.
The second step is for employees to secure their areas of responsibility.
The third step is securing the perimeter, including leaving unsecure areas such as fields, gyms, playgrounds or libraries.
The fourth step is lockdown — recognizing immediate danger and taking the appropriate steps. The plan highlights when to hide, run and fight.
Forsythe said the safety plan is more of a priority in her district because there currently are no school resource officers.
“We have police departments on the…