School safety task force issues recommendations for Oregon

Officials direct students of Reynolds High School in Troutdaleafter a gunman shot and killed a student shortly after classes started, June 10. 2014. A task force formed to improve school safety says Oregon should establish a tip line, develop a database of school floor plans and fund a statewide threat assessment system to identify and help students who present a potential risk for violence.

PORTLAND — A task force formed to improve school safety says Oregon should establish a tip line, develop a database of school floor plans and fund a statewide threat assessment system to identify and help students who present a potential risk for violence.

The recommendations were included in a report released last week by the Oregon Task Force on School Safety. It was established by the Legislature last year following shootings at the Clackamas Town Center and the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

The group’s goal was to come up with strategies to more effectively respond to school violence and active-shooter situations. Its report addresses safety at grade school through high school levels.

Over the past two years, at least a dozen shootings happened at schools throughout the country, including at Rosemary Anderson High in Portland, Reynolds High in Troutdale and Umpqua Community College, where a gunman killed nine and before shooting himself.

“With the recent shooting on the UCC campus in Roseburg and other incidents across our state and nation, it is clear we need to do everything we can to help make our schools safer,” said Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts, who chaired the task force.

The report says partnerships between school leadership, first responders, mental-health professionals and the community are critical to overall school safety.

One key recommendation is an online database of school floor plans. Officials say it would assist first responders in knowing the layout of a building before entering it during an emergency.

Another recommendation, the tip line, would include voice, text and online options to allow students and parents to anonymously share information about potential threats, which officials would then assess.

Oregon used to have a tip line, created after the 1998 Thurston High School in Springfield, but it was discontinued. The report strongly recommends its reinstatement.

The report also recommends that the state fund a threat assessment system. The task force suggests one similar to Oregon’s Salem-Keizer model, which helps identify and evaluate students in crisis and helps schools in addressing threats.

Lastly, the report suggests that school districts and first responders adopt standardized terminology — such as lockdown, lockout, shelter in place, evacuate — during emergencies.

The Legislature still needs to approve and fund the recommendations.

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