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St. Bernard Parish Public School System Prioritizes School Safety


Media Contact: Alexis Pritchard

Date: 07/27/2022

Phone: 504-301-2000


St. Bernard Parish Public School System Prioritizes School Safety

Develops Comprehensive School and District Emergency Operations Plans

Chalmette, LA - The St. Bernard Parish Public School System, in partnership with the LSU Stephenson Institute, has developed a series of multi-faceted and comprehensive emergency operations plans (EOP) for each school and a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) for the district.

These plans — developed in coordination with John Rahaim, Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness for St. Bernard Parish, and local law and government officials — ensure that all students and employees are safe during the course of any crisis, including from threats of violence, medical emergencies, explosions/fires, lockdowns, chemical/hazardous material accidents/spills, and severe weather. The district is the first in the state to create such extensive plans focused on school safety.

Superintendent Doris Voitier said crisis management and emergency response plans are in place at every school site and stressed the importance of streamlining it.

“Our number one goal for the St. Bernard Parish Public School System is to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for all students and staff,” she said. “We know that having an organized, systematic emergency operations plan in place helps to reduce risks and supports with the prevention, preparation, response to, and recovery from a crisis situation. We are proud to be one of the first districts in the state and likely the nation to develop such a program.

The St. Bernard Parish Public School System has been working on this plan for several years. In 2017, it began the process of digitizing and enhancing floor plans for schools throughout the district. The result was a repository of digital floor plans, as well as a collaborative and comprehensive school safety map package for each district school. The process brought together school administrators, first responders, and other key players to discuss safety and response capabilities for each campus. 

Cliff Englande, President of the St. Bernard Parish School Board, acknowledged the importance of this responsibility.

“In order for our school system to meet the on-demand needs of our school community, we must have plans in place that allow us to continue operations in the face of emergency situations. The plans developed ensure our students and staff remain safe and secure while in our care,” he said. “We’d like to thank our administration, community partners, and especially John Rahaim and the LSU Stephenson Institute for their help in creating these critical plans.” 

This initiative has given the district, each school, and first responders valuable information to expedite critical decisions during the initial response to an emergency.

In addition to school EOP’s and the district COOP, the school system has compiled a parent and guardian emergency guide for families to use as a ready reference of procedures that should be adhered to in the event of a crisis. The guide contains important contact information, as well as the most common crisis/emergency scenarios.

“We all know how important preparation is in all walks of life,” said Parish President Guy McInnis. “These newly established plans will help all of us work in unison to best manage a major emergency on any campus. We appreciate the school board taking the lead on this and know how crucial speedy cooperation is in any event requiring a multi-jurisdictional response.”

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