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4 years since Noblesville school shooting | Here's what's changed

After the shooting in 2018, the community passed a referendum to make enhancements to mental health and safety programs.

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — Friday marks four years since the shooting inside Noblesville West Middle School. 

A student opened fire, shooting classmate Ella Whistler and teacher Jason Seaman. Seaman then took down the gunman. The 13-year-old boy was ordered to a juvenile detention facility until his 18th birthday.

The district issued a message to parents after learning of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas Tuesday:

"The tragedy in Texas, and its timing on the eve of the anniversary of our own school shooting, has re-opened painful memories for many of us in the Noblesville community.

Our hearts are with the students, staff and families in Uvalde as we continue to process our own thoughts and feelings during this difficult time.

We're thankful for the Noblesville community's referendum funding that has provided over 50 safety and 30 mental health enhancements in our schools since the 2018 shooting including Noblesville Police Department school resource officers and social workers in all schools, door barricading devices, safety dogs, hardened surfaces, enhanced safety communications, and many other protections."

After the shooting in 2018, the district asked for and the community passed a referendum to make enhancements to mental health and safety programs.

RELATED: Indiana bill would let 12-year-olds be tried as adults in crimes like Noblesville school shooting

$1.75 million in safety enhancements

Safety Staffing

  • Tripled the number of school resource officers (SROs) with dedicated officers in each school. 
  • Increased police presence for after-hour/large event security
  • New full-time district safety director hired 
  • New full-time AV/camera technician hired
  • Hiring of additional teaching staff for middle/high school due to large class sizes and facility capacity

Safety Facilities/Equipment/Systems

  • Enhanced emergency communication systems
  • Enhanced Google-Suite online safety monitoring system
  • Enhanced safety technology tools, including streamlined online monitoring for flagged keywords
  • Increased facility lockdown tools for 10 schools 
  • Hardening of doors and windows
  • Enhanced security cameras (entryways)
  • Visitor entry process moved outside of school buildings
  • Additional police radios in buildings 
  • Enhanced video systems on 100+ buses
  • Additional security camera equipment for 10 schools, increased camera monitoring and additional SROs to manage security surveillance
  • Elimination of portable classrooms
  • Applied for and received state-issued metal detector wands used in cases where reasonable suspicion exists and for random screens
  • Phone signage installed on phones in all schools so staff members know how to make 911 calls, make an all page to entire school, or call for medical assistance
  • Stop the Bleed safety kits now in all buildings
  • Emergency “Go Bags” now in all classrooms
  • School safety dogs program launched in August 2019 with three safety dogs/handlers covering all buildings.  Safety dogs detect both guns and narcotics.
  • Vape detection devices installed in October 2019 at NHS, NWMS, NEMS
  • Radio-to-Intercom bridge installed in all elementary schools to allow administrators to make an intercom announcement from anywhere in their building.
  • Installation of door barricading devices for approximately 1,000 classrooms and offices throughout the district 
  • Installation of window shades for each classroom door window and/or sidelight window next to doors that can be pulled down in the event of an emergency/crisis.  

Safety Processes/Procedures

  • Increased level background checks for all visitors to have access to students
  • Increased bus security and bus driver professional development for 100+ buses/drivers 
  • Limited student entry into school buildings in the mornings
  • Backpacks to stay in lockers during the school day
  • Limited student and adult visitor access to hallways
  • Enhanced monitoring of secondary student identification
  • Launched student safety committee with 24 representatives that meet quarterly 
  • Meetings with safety experts and local law enforcement to analyze May 25
  • Ongoing safety review meetings with local enforcement and safety experts
  • Meetings with parents, vendors, community organizations
  • Researching and evaluating new ideas and products, including cost estimates and quotes
  • Developing new safety processes/procedures
  • Providing parents, community and media with safety updates including live meetings 
  • Implementation of Project Truth curriculum by School Resource Officers which includes gun safety education
  • Distribution of hundreds of gun safety locks to community
  • Applying for safety grants
  • Community outreach and collaboration
  • Developed reunification plan and established emergency shelter locations for all schools
  • Developed increased safety training for school personnel 
  • Developed Safety Patrol Program for elementary schools
  • Implemented new alert safety levels in order to have clearer verbiage, as well as have common language among all Hamilton County Schools
  • Created Safety Drill Scripts for all schools so that there is consistency among our buildings with drills, as well as blend practicing safety procedures while keeping the mental health safety of our students in mind
  • Implemented safety/threat assessment process to investigate student threats of violence toward others 
  • Vulnerability Assessments are completed annually to identify and evaluate potential risks and areas of weakness within the physical security components of our buildings.

RELATED: Noblesville West teacher Jason Seaman receives medal of heroism

$1.57 million in mental health enhancements

Mental Health Resources

  • Counseling coordinator hired
  • Mental health coordinator hired
  • Enhanced collaboration with mental health organizations, including new partnership with Community Health to significantly enhance access to mental health resources
  • Ten clinically-trained social workers to provide onsite, focused professional services to kids most in need.
  • Deans at middle school level hired
  • Three additional elementary school counselors hired
  • Three additional teachers for English language learners hired
  • One additional social worker at the Miller Success Academy-NHS

Mental Health Initiatives

  • Ongoing counseling services and support for parents/staff/students
  • Student therapy groups on site
  • Additional social emotional supports for students facing adversity
  • Expanded use and education of confidential reporting with SpeakUp app
  • Enhanced student education and use of social emotional coping strategies
  • Mental health training for students and staff in all schools
  • Enhanced staff training and protocol for suicide prevention 
  • Enhanced staff training on brain neuroscience/emotional support
  • Implemented initiatives related to diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Met with Hamilton County trauma therapists and psychologists to hear their expertise and suggestions for school administrators and counselors regarding mental health supports
  • Awarded Lilly grant for increased mental health services
  • Launched a social emotional climate survey for grades 3-12 to gather data on student needs
  • Social workers providing new child abuse curriculum for students K-12
  • Implemented a new mental health framework to better target support for students and staff following crisis events
  • Piloting middle school teams to train others on behavior modification practices
  • School-based mentoring program scheduled to begin fall of 2021
  • Integrated comprehensive student support teams, consisting of counselor, social worker, and Community Health Network therapist, at each school building  
  • Increased access to resources that meet student and family needs
  • Increased individual, group, and classroom services provided by counseling and social work staff
  • Implementation of climate survey, including data disaggregation and support based on data 
  • Increased ability to identify and support students and families experiencing homelessness or housing instability
  • Received a $70,000 grant from United Way to support mental health and well being by assisting staff and students with co-payments for therapy services. 
  • Ongoing professional development around trauma informed practices in schools
  • Ten staff members fully trained in the PrePare model of mental health crisis intervention

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