WCPS, community partners sign landmark safety protocol

In a “groundbreaking” move, the Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) division has signed a Community Threat and Risk

In a “groundbreaking” move, the Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) division has signed a Community Threat and Risk Assessment Protocol with several key community health and safety organizations.

At the WCPS board of trustees meeting Tuesday, March 17, Superintendent Larry Jacobs, board chair Trudy Bratland, district social worker Barb Reaney, Joyce Crandall, associate director for Central Child and Family Services Red Deer regional office (representing David Tunney, chief executive director for Central Child and Family Services), Alana Cissell, program manager for community addiction and mental health for the north-central area (representing Dwight Hunks, executive director for Addiction and Mental Health Alberta Health Services central zone) and  Steve Murray, Lacombe chief of police all signed the protocol to commit to taking a proactive stance on ensuring safety for the division’s staff and students.

Also on the signed document was the name of Leslie Bain, RCMP superintendent central Alberta district commander, although not present or represented at the meeting.

The partnership consists of WSPC; the RCMP detachments of Bashaw, Blackfalds, Ponoka, Rimbey and Sylvan Lake; Lacombe City Police; Child and Family Services and Addictions and Mental Health Alberta Health Services.

This new Threat and Risk Assessment Protocol focuses on immediate response, processes and preventative measures for safety both in schools and the communities.

“When we talk about a protocol we’re talking about something all these partners need to be aware of, have met about, provided feedback on, attended to any changes and eventually coming to an agreement of an organization,” said Hester.

The protocol itself contains the vision, statement of principles, key approaches, threat assessment response, activation of school and community teams, roles sharing of information, documentation, communications and fair notice for families.

“We’re lucky to have partners who are committed to collaboration. We are the only school division in Zone 4 who will have signed off protocols,” said Amber Hester, assistant superintendent of Inclusive Learning Services.

“The sharing of information I think, in past, would have been an area where we probably had maybe some barriers with our mandates coming together. We’ve worked through those barriers,” she added.

“We send out from Wolf Creek Public Schools a fair notice letter to our families at the beginning of every year, indicating that we have these protocols,” she said. Until the protocols were in place, the division worked under a memorandum of understanding.

She says the rationales behind the threat risk protocol are to respond to student behaviors that may pose a potential risk of violence, reduce violence and reflect a safe and caring approach.

“So it’s a little bit groundbreaking for us to actually have a document that is reflective of the mandates of all our partners and yet fluid enough that we can all work together,” she added; the protocol took approximately two and a half years to finalize.

Hester says the work and ideas that went into the protocol is reflective of the work of Kevin Cameron — who was specifically consulted for the task, “…nationally and internationally around threat risks and violence,” she explained.

“He is the guru . . . he’s responded to a variety of school shootings, for example,” said Hester.