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Northern Lehigh approves school safety and security coordinator

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Published January 16. 2019 12:03PM

A familiar face will serve as Northern Lehigh School District’s School Safety and Security Coordinator.

On an 7-0 vote, with an abstention from Director Robin Distler, the school board on Monday approved Frank Gnas to the post per the requirements of Act 44.

The board then amended the administrator compensation plan between the district and the Northern Lehigh Middle Management Team to include the School Safety and Security Coordinator position.

District Superintendent Matthew J. Link lauded Gnas for his commitment to the safety of the students, staff, and residents of the district.

After the meeting, Link said the position was created because Act 44 mandates each school district to have the position.

“Officer Gnas was selected because he is the most qualified person within our district to fulfill the role,” Link said. “This meant that we had to make the School Police Officer position part of the administrative group because only a school administrator can fill the position.”

Link said that Gnas will work 20 additional days a year, and each of those days will be compensated at his per diem rate, which totals a little less than $6,000 once benefits and retirement adjustments are factored in.

He said that while Gnas will not take on additional administrative responsibilities, he will also continue in this role as district School Police Officer.

Link said the general duties of the School Safety and Security Coordinator, as outlined in Act 44, are to oversee all school police officers, school resource officers, school security guards, and policies and procedures in the school entity and report directly to the chief school administrator.

He said specific duties include:

• Reviewing the school entity’s policies and procedures relative to school safety and security and compliance with federal and state laws regarding school safety and security.

• Coordinate training and resources for students and school entity staff in matters relating to situational awareness, trauma-informed education awareness, behavioral health awareness, suicide and bullying awareness, substance abuse awareness and emergency procedures and training drills, including fire, natural disaster, active shooter, hostage situation and bomb threat.

• Coordinate school safety and security assessments as necessary.

• Serve as the school entity liaison with the committee, the department, law enforcement and other organizations on matters of school safety and security.

• Make a report no later than June 30, 2019, and each June 30 thereafter, to the school entity’s board of directors on the school entity’s current safety and security practices that identify strategies to improve school safety and security. The report is to be presented to the school entity’s board of directors at an executive session of the school entity’s board of directors. The report is to be submitted to the committee and not be subject to the act of Feb. 14, 2008, known as the Right-to-Know Law.

• Coordinate a tour of the school entity’s buildings and grounds biennially or when a building is first occupied or reconfigured with the law enforcement agencies and first responders that are primarily responsible for protecting and securing the school entity to discuss and coordinate school safety and security matters.

Additionally, Link said that Gnas will be the team leader for the district level Safe2Say Something team. Other members of the district’s team include Link, high school Principal Robert Vlasaty, middle school Principal Jill Chamberlain, and Slatington Elementary School Principal Scott Pyne.

Safe2Say Something is a youth violence prevention program run by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General. The program teaches youth and adults how to recognize warning signs and signals, especially within social media, from people who may be a threat to themselves or others and to “say something” BEFORE it is too late.

A person may submit an anonymous tip report through the Safe2Say Something system. From that point, the crisis center reviews, assesses and processes all submissions, and sends all submissions to school administration and/or law enforcement for intervention.

If needed, the crisis center may contact the tipster anonymously through the app.

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