Schools, County gather Wednesday for safety forum

WORK session in Pine Grove gym brought together public safety and school officials, who vowed to step up existing partnerships following the most recent school shooting.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
WORK session in Pine Grove gym brought together public safety and school officials, who vowed to step up existing partnerships following the most recent school shooting.



About 30 community members attended a Wednesday work session between educators and public safety officials, a 90-minute round table to assess existing and potential practices and policies aimed at ensuring and improving student safety.

The work session, at Pine Grove School, was facilitated by Superintendent Dan Goldman and Board Chair Mark Johnson as part of the Hood River County School District’s meeting at the school. It was convened in response to the recent school slaughter in Florida and a “Snapchat copycat” threat against Hood River Valley High School Feb. 16.

Forum participants pointed to the model system of security cooperation between the county and school district, and an extensive set of communication lines. Much of the credit for the close cooperation was given to the School Violence Response Team founded 10 years ago and made up of sheriff’s office and district officials.

Also highlighted were efforts at improving student behavior and school culture as hallmarks of generally healthy student safety factors in the district. Subjects included the comprehensive program known as Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) in force for two years and showing positive effects, and the coming facility improvements that will enhance student safety, including revised public entrance points, crisis communication technology, and double-locking doors on all classrooms.

“It was our incredible taxpayer support that made it possible for us to make these things possible for our kids,” Johnson said. Participants included School Board Members Benjamin Sheppard, Rich Truax, Karinda Hankins-Elliot, Mark Johnson, and Chrissy Reitz and Curriculum Director Neely Kirwan; Special Education Director Anne Carloss; HRVHS Principal Rich Polkinghorn; Vice Principal Kyle Rosselle; Wy’east Principal Sarah Braman-Smith; Technology Director Tod Hilstad; Westside Principal Bill Newton; Construction Manager Dale Kuykendall; and Human Resources Director Catherine Dalbey.

From county offices were Michelle Hughes of County Juvenile Department, Deputy Pete Hughes, Sheriff Matt English, and School Resource Officer Deputy Joel Ives, whose work with the schools and students was widely praised, including the expanded emergency response drill he recently organized at Hood River Middle School, to be repeated this year at Cascade Locks, Mid Valley, Parkdale, and HRVHS.



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