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Safety and Security

 

The district has developed and promotes a comprehensive program to ensure the safety of its employees, students, and visitors. The safety program includes guidelines and procedures for responding to emergencies and activities to help reduce the frequency of accidents and injuries. Student safety on campus, at school-related events, and in district vehicles is a high priority of the district. The cooperation of students is essential to ensuring school safety. A student is expected to avoid conduct that is likely to put the student or others at risk or set by district employees; remain alert to any safety hazards, such as intruders on campus or threats made by any person toward a student or staff member, and promptly report any incidents to a district employee. A student may make anonymous reports about safety concerns by using the following link: www.sweetwaterisd.net.

To prevent or minimize injuries to employees, coworkers, and students and to protect and conserve district equipment, employees must comply with the following requirements:

  • Observe all safety rules.

  • Keep work areas clean and orderly at all times.

  • Immediately report all accidents to their supervisor.

  • Operate only equipment or machines for which they have training and authorization.

While driving on district business, employees are required to abide by all state and local traffic laws. Employees driving on district business are prohibited from texting and using other electronic devices that require both visual and manual attention while the vehicle is in motion. Employees will exercise care and sound judgment on whether to use hands-free technology while the vehicle is in motion. Employees with questions or concerns relating to safety programs and issues can contact their immediate supervisor. Sweetwater ISD is committed to working with local health departments and infectious disease experts to receive guidance and implement safety protocols to slow the spread of diseases and protect vulnerable students and staff. Sweetwater ISD will also follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help ensure students are provided safe and healthy learning environments. Efficient, ongoing communication and consultation with staff, parents, and the community is critical to maintaining the trusting relationships that are vital to a healthy and productive learning environment. As a District, it is our duty to reassure the safety in our schools and to coordinate among various stakeholders.
  • All employees should be familiar with the safety procedures for responding to emergencies, including a medical emergency. Employees should locate evacuation diagrams posted in their work areas and be familiar with shelter in place, lockout, and lockdown procedures. Emergency drills will be conducted to familiarize employees and students with safety and evacuation procedures. Each campus is equipped with an automatic external defibrillator. Fire extinguishers are located throughout all district buildings. Employees should know the location of these devices and procedures for their use.

    Emergency Operation Plans (Link)

  • Soon after the school year begins, parents will have the opportunity to purchase low-cost accident insurance that would help meet medical expenses in the event of injury to their child.
  • Periodically, the school will conduct preparedness drills of emergency procedures. When the command is given or alarm is sounded, students need to follow the direction of teachers or others in charge quickly, quietly, and in an orderly manner.
  • The district will annually offer instruction in CPR at least once to students enrolled in grades 7–12. The instruction can be provided as part of any course and is not required to result in CPR certification. The district will annually offer students in grades 7–12 instruction on the use of bleeding control stations to respond to traumatic injury. For more information, see Homeland Security’s Stop the Bleed and Stop the Bleed Texas.
  • All visitors are expected to enter any district facility through the main entrance and sign in or report to the building’s main office. Authorized visitors will receive directions or be escorted to their destination. Employees who observe an unauthorized individual on the district premises should immediately direct him or her to the building office or contact the administrator in charge.

    General Visitors. Parents and others are welcome to visit district schools. For the safety of those within the school and to avoid disruption of instructional time, all visitors must first report to the main office and comply with all applicable district policies and procedures. All visitors should be prepared to show identification. Individuals may visit classrooms or observe virtual instruction during instructional time only with approval of the principal and teacher. Visitors may not interfere with instruction or disrupt the normal school environment. All visitors are expected to demonstrate the highest standards of courtesy and conduct. Disruptive behavior or violations of student privacy will not be permitted.

    Unauthorized Persons. In accordance with Education Code 37.105, a school administrator, school resource officer (SRO), or district police officer has the authority to refuse entry to or eject a person from district property if the person refuses to leave peaceably on request and: the person poses a substantial risk of harm to any person; or the person behaves in a manner that is inappropriate for a school setting and persists in the behavior after being given a verbal warning that the behavior is inappropriate and may result in refusal of entry or ejection. Appeals regarding refusal of entry or ejection from district property may be filed in accordance with policies FNG(LOCAL) or GF(LOCAL).

    Business, Civic, and Youth Groups. The district may invite representatives from patriotic societies listed in Title 36 of the United States Code to present information to interested students about membership in the society. SISD invites all youth activities leaders (i.e. 4H, Youth sports, scouts, etc.) to pass out sign up information and/or come visit with students to raise awareness and interest. Furthermore, SISD encourages businesses to participate in activities such as senior interviews. 

    Career Day. Sweetwater ISD invites representatives from local businesses, higher education institutions, prospective employers, and military recruiters to present information to interested students.

    Volunteers. The district invites and appreciates the efforts of volunteers who are willing to serve our district and students. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact campus principal for more information. The district does not require state criminal history background checks for volunteers who are parents, guardians, or grandparents of a child enrolled in the district. Subject to exceptions in accordance with state law and district procedures, other volunteers will be subject to a state criminal history background check, and the volunteer must pay all costs for the background check.

    Deliveries. Except in emergencies, delivery of messages or packages to students will not be allowed during instructional time. A parent may leave a message or a package, such as a forgotten lunch, for the student to pick up from the front office during a passing period or lunch.
  • Sweetwater ISD contracts with the Sweetwater Police Department to contract two school resource officers. The purpose and intent of the SRO program is to ensure the legal safety of our students, faculty, staff, and district facilities.

     

    Questioning of Students. When law enforcement officers or other lawful authorities wish to question or interview a student at school, the principal will cooperate fully regarding the conditions of the interview, including without parental consent, if necessary, if it is part of a child abuse investigation. In other circumstances, the principal will: Verify and record the identity of the officer or other authority and ask for an explanation of the need to question the student at school; Ordinarily make reasonable efforts to notify the parents, unless the interviewer raises what the principal considers to be a valid objection; Ordinarily be present for the questioning or interview, unless the interviewer raises what the principal considers to be a valid objection.

     

    Students Taken into Custody. State law requires the district to permit a student to be taken into legal custody: To comply with an order of the juvenile court; To comply with the laws of arrest; By a law enforcement officer if there is probable cause to believe the student has engaged in delinquent conduct or conduct in need of supervision; By a law enforcement officer to obtain fingerprints or photographs for comparison in an investigation; By a law enforcement officer to obtain fingerprints or photographs to establish a student’s identity where the child may have engaged in conduct indicating a need for supervision, such as running away; By a probation officer if there is probable cause to believe the student has violated a condition of probation imposed by the juvenile court; By an authorized representative of Child Protective Services (CPS), Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), a law enforcement officer, or a juvenile probation officer, without a court order, under the conditions set out in the Family Code relating to the student’s physical health or safety; To comply with a properly issued directive from a juvenile court to take a student into custody. Before a student is released to a legally authorized person, the principal will verify the person’s identity and, to the best of his or her ability, will verify the person’s authority to take custody of the student. The principal will immediately notify the superintendent and will attempt to notify the parent, unless the legally authorized person raises what the principal considers to be a valid objection to notifying the parents. Because the principal does not have the authority to prevent or delay a student’s release to a legally authorized person, any notification will most likely be after the fact.

     

    Notification of Law Violations. The district is required by state law to notify: All instructional and support personnel who have responsibility for supervising a student who has been taken into custody, arrested, or referred to the juvenile court for any felony offense or for certain misdemeanors; All instructional and support personnel who have regular contact with a student who has been convicted, received deferred prosecution, received deferred adjudication, or was adjudicated for delinquent conduct for any felony offense or certain misdemeanors that occur in school, on school property, or at a school-sponsored or school-related activity on or off school property. These personnel will also be notified if the principal has reasonable grounds to believe the student has engaged in certain conduct; All appropriate district personnel regarding a student who is required to register as a sex offender.

  • Employees, visitors, and students, including those with a license to carry a handgun, are prohibited from bringing firearms, knives, clubs, or other prohibited weapons onto school premises (i.e., building or portion of a building) or any grounds or building where a school-sponsored activity takes place. A person, including an employee, who holds a license to carry a handgun may transport or store a handgun or other firearm or ammunition in a locked vehicle in a parking lot, garage, or other district provided parking area, provided the handgun or firearm or ammunition is properly stored, and not in plain view. To ensure the safety of all persons, employees who observe or suspect a violation of the district’s weapons policy should report it to their supervisor or call the superintendent immediately.
  • For safety purposes, the district uses video and audio recording equipment to monitor student behavior, including on buses and in common areas on campus. Students will not be told when the equipment is being used. The principal will review the video and audio recordings as needed and document student misconduct. Discipline will be in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct. In accordance with state law, a parent of a student who receives special education services, a staff member (as this term is defined by law), a principal or assistant principal, or the board may make a written request for the district to place video and audio recording equipment in certain self-contained special education classrooms. The district will provide notice before placing a video camera in a classroom or other setting in which a child receives special education services. For more information or to request the installation and operation of this equipment, speak with the principal or designee, who the district has designated to coordinate the implementation of and compliance with this law.
  • To maintain a safe and disciplined learning environment, Sweetwater ISD reserves the right to subject students to metal detector searches when entering a district campus and at off-campus, school-sponsored activities.
  • In the interest of promoting student safety and drug-free schools, district officials may occasionally conduct searches. District officials may search students, their belongings, and their vehicles in accordance with law and district policy. Searches of students will be conducted without discrimination, based on, for example, reasonable suspicion or voluntary consent or pursuant to district policy providing for suspicionless security procedures, including the use of metal detectors. In accordance with the Student Code of Conduct, students are responsible for prohibited items found in their possession, including items in their personal belongings or in vehicles parked on district property. If there is reasonable suspicion to believe that searching a student’s person, belongings, or vehicle will reveal evidence of a violation of the Student Code of Conduct, a district official may conduct a search in accordance with law and district regulations.

     

    District Property. Desks, lockers, district-provided technology, and similar items are the property of the district and are provided for student use as a matter of convenience. District property is subject to search or inspection at any time without notice. Students have no expectation of privacy in district property. Students are responsible for any item found in district property provided to the student that is prohibited by law, district policy, or the Student Code of Conduct.

     

    Vehicles on Campus. If a vehicle subject to search is locked, the student will be asked to unlock the vehicle. If the student refuses, the district will contact the student’s parents. If the parents also refuse to permit the vehicle to be searched, the district may turn the matter over to law enforcement. The district may contact law enforcement even if permission to search is granted.

     

    Technology Devices. Any searches of personal electronic devices will be conducted in accordance with law, and the device may be confiscated to perform a lawful search. A confiscated device may be turned over to law enforcement to determine whether a crime has been committed.

     

    Trained Dogs. The district may use trained dogs to screen for concealed, prohibited items, including drugs and alcohol. Screenings conducted by trained dogs will not be announced in advance. The dogs will not be used with students, but students may be asked to leave personal belongings in an area that is going to be screened, such as a classroom, a locker, or a vehicle. If a dog alerts to an item or an area, it may be searched by district officials.

  • Littering, defacing, or damaging school property is not tolerated. Students will be required to pay for damages they cause and will be subject to criminal proceedings as well as disciplinary consequences in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct.
  • Certain criminal offenses, including gang-related crimes, will be enhanced to the next-highest category of offense if they are committed in a gang-free zone. Gang-free zones include a school bus and any location in, on, or within 1,000 feet of any district-owned or leased property or campus playground.
  • Dating violence occurs when a person in a current or past dating relationship uses physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse to harm, threaten, intimidate, or control the other person in the relationship or any of the person’s past or subsequent partners. This type of conduct is considered harassment if it is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it affects a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or activity; creates an intimidating, threatening, hostile, or offensive educational environment; or substantially interferes with the student’s academic performance. Examples of dating violence against a student may include, but are not limited to: Physical or sexual assaults; Name-calling; Put-downs; Threats to hurt the student, the student’s family members, or members of the student’s household; Destroying property belonging to the student; Threats to commit suicide or homicide if the student ends the relationship; Threats to harm a student’s past or current dating partner; Attempts to isolate the student from friends and family;Stalking; or Encouraging others to engage in these behaviors. A flier from the Texas Attorney General’s office includes information on recognizing and responding to dating violence, including contact information for help. The counselor’s office has additional information about the dangers of dating violence and resources for seeking help. For more information on dating violence, see the CDC’s Preventing Teen Dating Violence.
  • Discrimination is defined as any conduct directed at a student on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, gender, national origin, age, disability, or any other basis prohibited by law that negatively affects the student.
  • Harassment, in general terms, is conduct so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it affects a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or activity; creates an intimidating, threatening, hostile, or offensive educational environment; or substantially interferes with the student’s academic performance. Examples of harassment may include, but are not limited to: Offensive or derogatory language directed at a person’s religious beliefs or practices, accent, skin color, or need for accommodation; Threatening, intimidating, or humiliating conduct; Offensive jokes, name-calling, slurs, or rumors; Physical aggression or assault; Graffiti or printed material promoting racial, ethnic, or other negative stereotypes; or Other kinds of aggressive conduct such as theft or damage to property.

     

    Sexual harassment and gender-based harassment of a student by an employee, volunteer, or another student are prohibited. Examples of sexual harassment may include, but are not limited to: Touching private body parts or coercing physical contact that is sexual in nature; Sexual advances; Jokes or conversations of a sexual nature; and Other sexually motivated conduct, communications, or contact. Sexual harassment of a student by an employee or volunteer does not include necessary or permissible physical contact that a reasonable person would not construe as sexual in nature, such as comforting a child with a hug or taking the child’s hand. However, romantic, sexual, and other inappropriate social relationships between students and district employees are prohibited, even if consensual. Gender-based harassment includes physical, verbal, or nonverbal conduct based on a student’s gender, the student’s expression of characteristics perceived as stereotypical for the student’s gender, or the student’s failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity. Gender-based harassment can occur regardless of the student’s or the harasser’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Examples of gender-based harassment directed against a student may include, but are not limited to: Offensive jokes, name-calling, slurs, or rumors; Physical aggression or assault; Threatening or intimidating conduct; or Other kinds of aggressive conduct such as theft or damage to property.

  • Retaliation against a person who makes a good-faith report or participates in an investigation of discrimination, harassment, or dating violence is prohibited. A person who makes a false claim, offers false statements, or refuses to cooperate with a district investigation, however, may be subject to appropriate discipline. Examples of retaliation may include threats, rumor spreading, ostracism, assault, destruction of property, unjustified punishments, or unwarranted grade reductions. Unlawful retaliation does not include petty slights or annoyances.
  • Bullying is defined by §TEC 37.0832. All employees are required to report student complaints of bullying, including cyberbullying, to the campus principal. Sweetwater ISD strives to prevent bullying, in accordance with the district’s policies, by promoting a respectful school climate; encouraging reporting of bullying incidents, including anonymous reporting; and investigating and addressing reported bullying incidents. Bullying is defined in state law as a single significant act or a pattern of acts by one or more students directed at another student that exploits an imbalance of power and involves engaging in written or verbal expression, expression through electronic means, or physical conduct that: has the effect or will have the effect of physically harming a student, damaging a student’s property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of harm to the student’s person or of damage to the student’s property; is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive enough that the action or threat creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for a student; materially and substantially disrupts the educational process or the orderly operation of a classroom or school; or infringes on the rights of the victim at school. Bullying includes cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is defined in state law as bullying that is done through the use of any electronic communication device, including through the use of: a cellular or other type of telephone; a computer; a camera; electronic mailInstant messaging; text messaging; a social media application; an internet website; or any other internet-based communication tool. Bullying is prohibited by the district and could include: hazing; threats; taunting;teasing; confinement; assault; demands for money; destruction of property; theft of valued possessions; name-calling; rumor-spreading; and/or ostracism. If a student believes that he or she has experienced bullying or witnesses the bullying of another student, the student or parent should notify a teacher, school counselor, principal, or another district employee as soon as possible. Procedures for reporting allegations of bullying may be found on the district’s website. A student may anonymously report an alleged incident of bullying by using the following link: https://www.sweetwaterisd.net/.

    The administration will investigate any allegations of bullying and related misconduct. The district will also provide notice to the parent of the alleged victim and the parent of the student alleged to have engaged in bullying.If an investigation determines that bullying occurred, the administration will take appropriate disciplinary action and may, in certain circumstances, notify law enforcement. Disciplinary or other action may be taken even if the conduct did not rise to the level of bullying. Available counseling options will be provided to the affected individuals, including any student who witnessed the bullying. Any retaliation against a student who reports an incident of bullying is prohibited. Upon recommendation of the administration, the board may transfer a student found to have engaged in bullying to another classroom at the campus. In consultation with the student’s parent, the board may transfer the student to another campus in the district. The parent of a student who has been determined to be a victim of bullying may request that the student be transferred to another classroom or campus within the district.

  • Any student who believes that he or she has experienced dating violence, discrimination, harassment, or retaliation should immediately report the problem to a teacher, school counselor, principal, or other district employee. The report may be made by the student’s parent. Upon receiving a report, the district will determine whether the allegations, if proven, constitute prohibited conduct as defined by policy FFH. If not, the district will refer to policy FFI to determine whether the allegations, if proven, constitute bullying, as defined by law and policy FFI. If the alleged prohibited conduct also meets the statutory and policy definitions for bullying, an investigation of bullying will also be conducted. The district will promptly notify the parent of any student alleged to have experienced prohibited conduct involving an adult associated with the district. In the event alleged prohibited conduct involves another student, the district will notify the parent of the student alleged to have experienced the prohibited conduct when the allegations, if proven, would constitute a violation.
  • Allegations of prohibited conduct, which includes dating violence, discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, will be promptly investigated. To the extent possible, the district will respect the privacy of the student. However, limited disclosures may be necessary to conduct a thorough investigation and comply with law. If a law enforcement or other regulatory agency notifies the district that it is investigating the matter and requests that the district delay its investigation, the district will resume its investigation at the conclusion of the agency’s investigation. During the course of an investigation and when appropriate, the district will take interim action to address the alleged prohibited conduct. If the district’s investigation indicates that prohibited conduct occurred, appropriate disciplinary action and, in some cases, corrective action will be taken to address the conduct. The district may take disciplinary and corrective action even if the conduct was not unlawful. All involved parties will be notified of the outcome of the district investigation within the parameters and limits allowed under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
  • With Title IV monies, the district added additional fencing in 2019-2020.  We also added to our existing camera systems in 2020-2021 and installed fencing at high school.  With our Title IV monies for 2021-2022, we will be fencing the practice field area at middle school.

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