Northern Lehigh School District has made a minor revision to its policy on terroristic threats.
By an 8-0 vote, the school board on Monday approved the first reading of school board policy #218.2, Pupils - Terroristic Threats/Acts, as presented. Director Mathias Green was absent.
The only change to the policy occurred under the Delegation of Responsibility, which states the board directs the superintendent, or designee, to react promptly and appropriately to information and knowledge concerning a possible or actual terroristic threat or action. The words "or designee", are all that were added to the policy.
The change to the policy comes one month after several parents questioned the manner in which terroristic threats made against students at Slatington Elementary in December were handled.
At last month's board meeting, resident Stacey Olewine voiced concerns over terroristic threats she said were made against her son on Dec. 7 at Slatington Elementary.
Olewine then read a prepared statement, in which she signaled out board Policy 218.2, specifically with concern to safety.
Contacted by a reporter the morning after the January board meeting, Slatington Police Chief Dave Rachman said the situation was a case of a threat that was "made from one of the students to some other students."
Rachman said at that time the matter was then subsequently conferred with the District Attorney's office, and a decision was made to file charges. A juvenile was charged with terroristic threats, Rachman said at that time.
Prior to the board's action, Superintendent Michael Michaels asked Scot Engler, Director of Special Education and Administrative Services, and Greg Derr, Director of Support Services and Transportation, to report on the School Safety Task Force meeting held earlier this month.
Engler said the meeting was fairly well attended, and noted members of the community who attended brought forth some concerns. Representatives from the Pennsylvania State Police, as well as Sgt. Alercia of the Slatington Police Department, and Sgt. Palmer of the Emmaus Police Department, were also on hand, he said.
With regard to Policy #218.2, Engler said the change was very minor, and added "it is always very clearly delineated who to go to if Mike's not here."
Derr concurred the School Safety Task Force meeting was well attended, and added that there are some trainings planned in the future.
Michaels added "we want our first aid responders to be very familiar with our facilities."
Afterward, high school Principal Robert Vlasaty related a situation at the high school that started over a rumor soon after the Connecticut shootings. At that point, Vlasaty said he alerted Michaels and [Assistant Superintendent Karen] Nicholas, as well as the Slatington Police Department, and said it was discovered it was not a valid threat.
Michaels said he implores all administrators to be "proactive and use common sense."
Vlasaty said some of the confusion over the policy may have been due to the fact that the term superintendent actually means superintendent and his or her designee.
Michaels said "I'm very proud of our district. Northern Lehigh is doing a great job in a lot of areas."
He added "other administrators have the training and expertise to keep going forward. I'm very proud of the administrative team."
Michaels added that if anything, "I think we're a little bit at fault for not tooting our own horns."
He then lauded several of the building principals, as well as Assistant Principal Scott Pyne, for their work.
Redundancy is the key, said Michaels, who also praised Nicholas, Engler, and Derr, for a job well done.
"We're a team; there's no I in team," he said. "We still have to move forward."
Director Raymond Follweiler voiced his support for Michaels "for the excellent job he's doing in this district. He has this district running smooth."
Follweiler, a lifelong resident of the district, said that in all his years, he's never seen the district run so well, and thanked Michaels for his work.
Michaels thanked Follweiler for the kind words, but reiterated that it was a team effort.
The next meeting of the School Safety Task Force will be held on March 6.