Oregon Officials Review School Safety Policies

Dec 14, 2012

The shootings at a Connecticut elementary school have top Oregon officials taking stock of school policies and procedures. The head of Oregon’s Department of Education, Rob Saxton, says he's reviewing safety with school districts. In ordering flags in Oregon to half-staff, Gov. John Kitzhaber said he supports “the President’s call for meaningful action, regardless of politics.”

The head of Oregon’s Department of Education, Rob Saxton.
Credit Oregon Department of Education website

John Van Dreal is a school psychologist in the Salem-Keizer School District and an expert on assessing threatening behavior. He says schools have gotten better at responding to potential threats. But Van Dreal sees room for improvement, if lawmakers would address well-meaning rules aimed at protecting confidentiality.

“There are times when it really interferes in an emergency situation," Van Dreal says. "Luckily, there have been some legislative means that have relaxed some of that information sharing, when someone is at-risk, or there’s possible harm to an individual. Certainly, I’d like to see that as a topic of discussion.”

School districts in Oregon have been emphasizing that they have strong security and safety procedures in place. School psychologists are counseling parents to listen to their kids, stick to routines and reassure them about safety.

Copyright 2012 Oregon Public Broadcasting