Auburn City Schools Superintendent Dr. Karen DeLano announced this week that she has contacted an Ohio-based organization, National School Safety and Security Services, to do an assessment of all city schools campuses for safety and security purposes.
Members of the Auburn Police Division, Chief of Police Paul Register and Assistant Chief of Police William Matthews, are also involved in this effort.
“We couldn’t have a better working relationship than what we have with the police department,” DeLano said. “They’re always available when we need them.”
The group began having conversations about doing an assessment of the schools back in early February, but DeLano said it took some time before they were able to begin the process.
“This group that we contacted is sought after,” she said. “They are highly recognized in the nation as being experts, and so it took us three weeks to get a date where they could actually sit down and talk to us.”
When the organization arrives at Auburn, DeLano said they will walk through each school and give suggestions that will increase security. They will also look at Auburn City Schools’ policies and procedures to see if any corrections need to be made. They will talk to the police department and members of the community to gather more information.
“Then they’ll come back and give us a report,” DeLano said. “They’ll gather everything that they can gather, and then they’ll come back and make suggestions.”
The report will be completed by summer, and DeLano said they will use it to make plans before the school starts back in the fall.
This comes a month after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that left 17 killed. A group of Auburn High School students responded to this with a 17-minute walkout during school Tuesday morning. There have also been walkouts at two other Auburn City Schools — East Samford School and Auburn Junior High School.
“I have encouraged the principals to allow it and to just make sure they’re safe and that they’re orderly,” DeLano said. “I’ve been very proud of them speaking out.”
The assessment announcement also comes in the wake of City Council members expressing the need for such an action and residents addressing the council with concerns about the glass walls that separate classrooms in the new Auburn High School from the main hallway.
DeLano said they will be talking with National School Safety and Security Services more this week and that the hope is to do the assessment before school is out.
Also this week, the ACS Board of Education appointed Katie Daniel as the new principal of Creekside Elementary School, which is currently under construction on Richland Road.
Daniel was born in Lagrange, Georgia, but she has been employed by ACS for 16 years. She taught at the Auburn Junior High School her first two years, then became assistant principal at Auburn Early Education Center for two years. After that, she taught at Yarbrough Elementary School for 12 years.
Her love for leading children and teachers led her to apply for this position, she said.
One of her priorities will be developing relationships with the students and parents to make sure everyone feels a part of Creekside.
“I think creekside will be a very special place,” she said. “I think we will have quality teachers and families that will make it just right.”