SUNBURY — The Big Walnut Board of Education approved two safety measures at its final meeting of the year on Dec. 15.
Superintendent Ryan McLane said safety has been his foremost concern, and that these measures will enhance student and staff safety.
First was the purchase of a visitor management system from Raptor Technologies, LLC. When a visitor swipes a state-issued identification card, it will run a background check instantly and will alert staff if there are any custody issues. It will also print a photo and time when the person has arrived. McLane said it’s a significant upgrade over the current sign-in sheet method. This system will also serve in emergency management situations from district devices and phones. McLane said this will be funded through two different safety grants.
Second was the purchase of Transfinder software for the transportation department.
“Our current routing software is significantly outdated — beyond flip-phone outdated,” McLane said. “If we’re going to do something, let’s do it right. This is a significant purchase in the first year because you have the technology hardware. But this will allow us to create more efficient routes — with our limited drivers, this is a necessity in order to continue offering transportation at the level we currently do.”
If needed, teachers and staff will also be able to access a student’s bus route from a computer or a phone. Buses will be equipped with GPS, so even substitute drivers will have easy-to-follow directions. Parents will also have access to receive alerts if buses are running behind schedule. The software will be purchased from the permanent improvement fund.
“Gone will be the days of wondering, did we miss the bus?” McLane said. “As well as the days of standing outside in the cold and rain and snow for 10 minutes waiting for the bus.”
McLane said one matter not on the agenda was personnel issues, some of which he cannot make public or answer all of the public’s questions about.
“Anytime we receive an allegation about a staff member, we investigate it,” he said. “If the allegation is of the nature where a student is potentially not safe, we remove that staff member from the building while that investigation takes place. That could last days or weeks. Getting it right is more important than getting it fast. Again, I am not speaking about a specific case, but in general, these situations tend to end in one of three ways. The allegation is unfounded, and the staff member is reinstated in their position; the allegation is confirmed, and we proceed with appropriate discipline up to and including termination and often times the employee chooses to resign. At any point in this process, an employee may choose to resign. I want to point out that if an employee resigns and we have credible information that they have committed a crime, and/or violated the ethics of an Ohio educator, we still provide that information to the appropriate law enforcement agency.”
The Ohio Department of Education is also contacted, McLane said.
“By no means is a resignation a get out of jail free card,” he said. “At no point in my 11 years as an administrator have I made a deal with an employee such as resign, and I won’t turn this over. If an employee decides to resign, that is their choice. I have a responsibility to the kids and the community and my own ethics as an educator to report things that are reportable. That is the way I have conducted business and that is the way I will continue to conduct business as long as I am the superintendent at this or any other district.”
Nothing was said at the meeting about any personnel matter in particular.
During the “Board Members Items of Interest” portion of the meeting, board member Alice Nicks spoke on trust.
“Character matters when it comes to Big Walnut staff,” she said. “We claim to guide and inspire our students, which would be a means of building character. That effort is not a single responsibility of staff and the administration, but it is a team effort which includes teachers, parents, administrators, custodians, bus drivers, food service personnel, counselors, members of the board and community members. It is important that the members of the team have a clear understanding of the boundaries and the rules for inspiring and guiding. I will close with this reminder, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Big Walnut does not want to travel that road. And with that, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and thank the staff for all their endeavors with our students.”
Assistant Editor Gary Budzak covers the eastern half of Delaware County and surrounding areas. He may be reached at the above email address.