Making Schools Safer in Lackawanna County

DUNMORE, Pa. -- Every school district in Lackawanna County is starting off the 2018-2019 school year with a new assignment. They're working together to implement a new state law to beef up school security.

Dunmore Middle School students filed into the auditorium Wednesday morning, a welcome break from class. They were about to hear from Lackawanna County's district attorney plus school superintendents and police officers from across the county.

The adults were there to tell the kids that they're stepping up school security, something that's been on the mind of 13-year-old Ciera Toomey since February.

"Around last year when we heard about Parkland, that was definitely, it made me scared," Toomey said.

The administrators, police, and Lackawanna County District Attorney Mark Powell formed a "safe schools coalition." It will meet monthly to come up with ways to protect schools in the county.

"It makes me feel better because that gives me confidence to come to school. If they're confident, then that just helps me get through my day without worrying about that stuff," Toomey said.

The coalition's first goal is to get an armed officer in every school in the county. Most districts have one, but not necessarily in every school.

"There was a law passed in June by Governor Wolf. It put the burden on the school districts to implement certain plans to ensure student safety. And the coalition is designed to help the schools to implement those plans and do it uniformly across the county," said Powell.

The coalition will also set up an anonymous tip line for students and teachers to report threats or suspicious activity and work to find state funding for more security measures in schools.

"We're hoping it can take some of the cost away from of the security things we're putting into place and helping districts. As you know, we're always looking to cut costs, and this is a big area when you're paying for staffing and security measures. We're hoping we can get some assistance from the state," said North Pocono Superintendent Bryan McGraw.

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