By Jean A. Flanagan
Moorefield Examiner –
“The school improvement council has asked every year for four years for a School Resource Officer. I feel like East Hardy schools are very vulnerable.”
Teryl Hott is co-chair of the East Hardy High School Local School Improvement Council, a group of parents, teachers, service personnel, business and community representatives who meet regularly to discuss issues of academics, athletics, discipline, facilities, needs and methods of improvement. The LSIC is mandated by West Virginia Code and every school in the state has one.
A School Resource Officer is a sworn member of local law enforcement who has completed a program in school-based law enforcement. The SRO works as a teacher, counselor and law enforcement officer in the school, provides a positive image of law enforcement to youth and leads by example.
Every year, the Hardy County LSICs present a report to the Hardy County Board of Education and every year since Hott has been involved in the LSIC, the report has included a recommendation that an SRO be assigned to East Hardy High School. But, according to Hott, “We don’t get any response from the board about the LSIC report.”
Hardy County BOE member Nancy Hahn was invited and attended last month’s LSIC meeting where school safety was discussed. Hardy County Sheriff Bryan Ward also attended the meeting.
“I feel like we are in an isolated area,” Hott said. “There is a 7 to 9 minute response time for any kind of emergency. A lot can happen in 7 – 9 minutes.”
The East Hardy School complex, which includes the high school and East Hardy Early Middle School, is located near Baker, approximately 15 miles from Moorefield, the county seat.
“My concern is the response time,” said EHHS Principal Brad Simmons. “Several years ago there was an incident and it took 11 minutes for someone to get here. That was the longest 11 minutes of my life.”
While the opening of Corridor H has improved the response time from Moorefield to East Hardy, parents, teachers and administrators are still worried. Compared with Moorefield schools, where the response time is two minutes or less, the distance to East Hardy is still significant in an emergency situation.
“You can’t argue with the math,” Ward said. “On an average day, there will be an officer in the Baker area and there could be an officer at the school within five minutes. But there are no guarantees.”