The Donegal School District will not be hiring a second school resource officer after all.
Superintendent J. Michael Lausch told the school board at its meeting on Thursday, Aug. 9, that he spoke with Susquehanna Regional Police Department Chief Ed Haugh in May and June, after the board voted to approve the hiring of a second SRO for the Donegal School District.
“We found out that there is no second SRO to be had. Susquehanna Regional themselves are trying to fill some vacancies, and they don’t have an officer that they can give us. So to that end, I am going to request this evening that we rescind the motion or the action that you made back in May to hire a second SRO, and instead, authorize me to explore other options to enhance our school security and safety,” Lausch said.
Currently, Scott Nye is the sole SRO for the district.
After the board approved his request, Lausch said in an interview that he is waiting on guidance from the state before he proceeds with the enhancement.
In June, Gov. Tom Wolf signed Act 44 of 2018 into law, creating a Safe Schools and Security Committee responsible for creating
criteria for school safety preparedness.
Lausch said in an interview that he may recommend enforcing state criteria by hiring a school police officer or school security guard.
At the meeting, Lausch appointed Mark Heckman as the new school safety and security coordinator.
Part of the new state requirement, the safety coordinator will report directly to the superintendent.
In the new position, Heckman will oversee all security personnel, review school safety procedures, coordinate school safety trainings and serve as a liaison to the new state committee.
Lausch said Heckman will also coordinate a tour of the school buildings and grounds with law enforcement and first responders biannually and present an annual report to the board by June 30.
Heckman said in an interview that he is in his ninth year with the Donegal School District and had been serving as the Director of Operationsand Safety, overseeing district buildings and grounds.
He said he began his career as a police officer for the U.S. Air Force.
Heckman plans to hit the ground running by developing drills and exercises.
Lausch said other requirements
of Act 44 include a security assessment/vulnerability study, fire drills and drills for active shooters, hostages, bomb threats and natural disasters.
He said every school employee must receive three hours of safety training every five years, with topics including: awareness of behavioral health, substance abuse, suicide, bullying and situational awareness.
The next meeting of the Donegal school board will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 13, at Donegal Primary School, 1055 Koser Road, Mount Joy.