Schools take care, for a few brief hours every day, of the most important people in our worlds. In Oak Creek we have strong partnerships: our parents care, our staff is prepared and committed, and our children come to school wanting to do their best.
Safety Procedures & Protocols
Our primary focus will always be the safety of our learners. We have plans and protocols in place to prepare our schools for various types of situations and to keep our students safe.
- Secure Entry & Manage Building Access
- Safety Plans
- School Safety Assessments
- School Resource Officers
- Safety Drills
- Staff Training
- Safety Kits
- Handling Threats
- School Counseling & Emotional Support
- Internet Safety
- Information for Students with Special Needs
All of our Oak Creek-Franklin public schools have locked, secure entrances--external doors are locked during the school day--essentially putting our schools in what’s commonly called “Lockout” all the time. Upon close inspection, you’d notice our door-glass is covered with a special polimer designed to prevent shattering, and we even landscape in a way that prioritizes visibility over esthetics. Classrooms are equipped with aftermarket locking panels, which allow for a speed-locking of sorts.
Raptor Visitor Management System
Visitors must be buzzed-in the secure entry door before entering the building. If a visitor plans on staying in the school building for any length of time, or moving beyond the lobby, they do what’s called a “credential exchange,” using the Raptor System. The Raptor System is basically a digital system for signing-in and getting a badge. Raptor scans the user’s ID against databases for any violation that would prevent the individual from being able to enter a school. Raptor also creates a daily record of who is in the building and when.
Out of sight in all our buildings are direct notification systems allowing members of our staff to connect directly to law enforcement. Imagine a situation where many individuals are calling emergency services at the same time; this system, so to speak, allows us to jump the line, and share the location of the crisis immediately. In testing, we’ve learned that response to our schools is very quick, and we know that Oak Creek Police will immediately enter our facilities in a crisis.
All adults in our schools are committed to safety. A select group of those committed individuals serve on each school’s Safety and Crisis Team. These teams convene multiple times a year and are committed to regularly refining and improving their site plans; site plans comply with best practices we’ve learned from FEMA, among others. It’s not uncommon for the teams to convene after a drill, severe weather incident, or other real/practical concern. The teams do a debrief and focus on identifying process improvements. The same way we ask for each classroom to continuously improve, so too do we approach safety planning. Procedures are discussed and practiced at each of the buildings. We also meet regularly as a District-Wide Crisis Team, pulling in our community partners in the local fire and police departments.
Our schools were awarded the StormReady certification by the National Weather Service. Through coordination between local weather personality Mark McGinnis, the National Weather Service, and our Building and Grounds Department, we’ve reviewed all our storm shelter locations in order to ensure that we have thoughtfully planned for severe weather and have designated the best possible locations at all our facilities as storm shelters.
Each spring in coordination with our partners in the Oak Creek Police Department, we perform reviews of both our entry/exit processes and school safety plans at each building. Local law enforcement helps us ensure that we are aligning with evolving best practices in facility safety. The world of school safety is evolving so quickly, we want to ensure we’re asking our local experts about how we can continue to improve.
The School District and the schools have a close relationship with the Oak Creek Police Department. We have three dedicated school liaison officers that are exceptional partners in the day-to-day safety of our schools. They advise us regularly and are integral to our training and preparation. You’ll find Officer Tim Zwicke at the high school every day; Officer Shawn Lentz and Officer Hank Narrai spend time in all our schools. We also support and encourage other day-shift officers to visit our schools for lunch, or just to check in; these are informal visits and promote community partnership as well as visibility.
It is extremely common to see a squad parked in front of our schools for non-emergency reasons, like school concerts, or other events. In addition to providing a pure law enforcement based safety measure, our SROs advise and counsel in ways at times similar to a school counselor. The SROs also share what we call “five minute Friday,” messages that invite discussion and call for considering scenarios in a table-top format; these activities help us create the mental maps that save seconds in a crisis.
All schools perform evacuation drills and lockdowns on a regular basis. Our schools conduct safety drills that exceed statutory requirements. In addition to fire and tornado drills, our staff and students plan and practice for situations where we may need to “lockout” (entrances secure, inside Physical Education and recess), “lockdown” (classroom doors), or potentially “evacuate” to another classroom, location in the school, or even to an alternative site. Fire and tornado drills are required by law every month, and twice a year, respectively. Crisis or safety drills are now also required in our state, and we perform a minimum of three safety related drills a year at every school in the District. We call these drills "lockout," "lockdown," “evacuate,” and “shelter.” Your student might not notice, as we use age-appropriate terminology, like “buddy-room drill” in an elementary school to move quickly from a home classroom to a partner classroom--for something like a health emergency or a quick evacuation--or your student might practice coming in from recess really fast.
Each of our schools plan and prepare for these types of events and the Oak Creek Police Department tests and/or advises us on these protocols. We don’t, however, just discuss and train for shelter-in-place situations, our training teaches us that we must consider situations in advance in order to create the preparation in our minds to exercise judgement--if a situation should require our staff to evacuate or defend our room--as horrible as that sounds and feels, we’ve considered that possibility in advance. For example, our staff are empowered to evacuate if safety permits and danger is close. We have also worked with FEMA and the Wisconsin School Safety Coordinators Association (WSSCA) to audit our protocols. None of these actions are required, but we dedicate time and energy to these practices because we wholeheartedly believe in the values of preparation, resource gathering, and planning.
Our District has dedicated a significant amount of professional development time to educating our staff about high-level safety and security measures and practices--in recent years nearly half our inservice time has been dedicated to safety training. Our teaching staff has successfully completed what the Oak Creek Police Department calls tier 1 and/or tier 2 active shooter training. Some of this training is hands-on, resembling a self-defense, or martial arts class.
New teachers, as part of their orientation to the District, receive special workshops in verbal de-escalation and school safety preparedness--in addition to the tier 1 and 2 training. And the police design custom training for people like front-office administrative assistants--these are emotional and challenging meetings--very few teachers or office workers thought this would be a part of the job when we set out down this road many years ago. Additionally, law enforcement regularly trains in our schools during off-hours, and has early access to our buildings every summer. This will be the case as well with all new construction.
In 2012 we started equipping our schools with cutting-edge safety kits--similar to what you’d find in tactical response vehicles. These kits are not widely available, nor often observed elsewhere. You might hear about requiring similar kits through legislation in the wake of a traumatic event, as they contain supplies necessary to render life-saving aide. The Oak Creek Fire Department builds, updates, inventories, and trains our staff on the use of these kits. PTOs commonly fundraise for replacement materials for these kits, as the contents expire and are costly.
You may hear on television after a traumatic event that there should have been what’s called a “Threat Assessment”. This is a meeting of sorts where a team from within and beyond a school come together to gather information and create what looks like a treatment/care/communication plan. This process often brings law enforcement together with a school’s team to share information. Our District has engaged in this practice for a number of years--which is uncommon and to our credit as a community. A threat assessment has so much potential value that as a requirement to access state safety grant funds from the Department of Justice, Wisconsin school districts must send a significant percentage of staff to a custom training on the subject.
Please know our staff is ready and available to help students who are fearful or uncomfortable. Please do not hesitate to encourage them to reach out to us so we may help your children through this time. K-12 Oak Creek-Franklin Joint School District students and their families also have access to the Aurora Student and Family Assistance Program, a unique program that gives families access to free, confidential counseling services. This is similar to employee assistance programs you may be familiar with from work. Aurora works with three or four southeastern Wisconsin schools to provide this unique and valuable service at no cost to our secondary students and families.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Department of Public Instruction have launched a program called "Interact!" that gives parents resources to have conversations with their children about internet safety.
Interact is an online e-course created for parents and guardians to complete with their children with the goal of initiating online safety discussions at home. For more information about the Interact program visit: https://dpi.wi.gov/internet-safety/new-interactive-safety-resource-available
As a District, we want to make sure our students with special needs are prepared for any emergency or threat. We have worked with the Oak Creek Police Department (OCPD) to get some things in place in the community. One safety item that you can have for your child is the Special Needs Alert Form. This document is completed by a child’s family and turned into either your special education teacher or directly to the Oak Creek Police Department. It is then used if the OCPD encounters your child in the community. Other police departments can also reach out to the OCPD for information if your child is in another community. This document provides information to help officers assist and communicate with your child more effectively.
During safety week, lessons that are presented to all students include social scripts to help students better understand expectations in an emergency. The student lessons are also provided to students with special needs in a small group or one-on-one with their special education teacher and a school counselor, school social worker or school psychologist.
Within each building’s Safety and Crisis Plan, a child with any special needs has an Individual & Emergency Lockdown Plan (IELP). Staff then make any items needed part of their “emergency go bags” that hang in their classroom and go with them in the case of an emergency.
Please discuss with your student the expectation to tell a trusted adult (in person, through email, or with STOPit) as soon as possible if he or she EVER hears or sees anything that is inappropriate in any way. As our partners the police always stress, “If you see or hear something, say something.” Please help us by reinforcing this important message. In addition, it’s important to talk with your children about safety at school and the importance of following instructions in the event of an emergency.
There are different ways for students, families, and community members to report concerns, including:
Tell a trusted adult in person, through email, or with the STOPit app. The STOPit app gives students the ability to anonymously report any inappropriate behavior directly to a school administrator.
Complete the bullying reporting form which can be found on the Bully Policy and Procedures page of the District website.
Contact the Oak Creek Police Department for an immediate reportse if something happens outside of the school day.