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Schools are close to filling security position

October 10, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - When Pangborn Elementary School was locked down for about a half hour Monday afternoon, school officials were paged and met to discuss a plan.

Washington County Public Schools spokeswoman Carol Mowen said officials met in a command center to determine what response was needed. Officials would not say Monday why the school was locked down, and Hagerstown Police said the matter was under investigation.

Procedures like the one used at Pangborn Elementary School did not exist in the county before a safety and security specialist/risk manager position was developed in 2003.

Human Resources Director Edward Lynch said the school system's security specialist, E. Paul Rudolph, was hired in Aug. 26, 2003. Rudolph left the position in May of this year, and the job has not been filled.

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Lynch said officials are close to hiring someone for the job, and have narrowed their choices to a few candidates.

"We're down to our top couple of candidates, and we're going through the final round of interviews," he said.

There might be a decision by the end of the week, Lynch said.

"The person will be responsible for working with other senior staff to develop our safety and security procedures for the system," he said.

A job posting on the school system's Web site for the safety and security specialist/risk manager states that a candidate for the job must have at least three years of successful experience managing risk, safety and security, preferably in the public sector. The position also requires experience communicating with local, state and federal police, fire, rescue, social service and emergency management agencies.

Mowen said the position requires someone to develop additional safety and security plans, while refining those that are already in place.

"When the job originally posted in 2003, we already had school-level security in place at that time," she said.

When Rudolph held the job, he established a system for alerting officials when there was a problem at one of the county's schools.

Mowen said before Rudolph took the job, if a school needed help from a certain department within the school system, they called each department. Now, they call one number, and officials from all departments are contacted. Those officials then meet and discuss a plan for action.

School officials also have received training for incident management.

The following are some of the responsibilities of the safety and security specialist/risk manager, according to the job posting:

· Advise senior management on all security matters.

· Evaluate the system's safety/security program (plans) and recommend changes as necessary.

· Ensure that school personnel conduct periodic safety drills to assess their preparedness for emergencies.

· Analyze safety and security risks and trends and recommend responses to negative trends.

· Consult with building principals and head custodians to develop and coordinate security programs, assist in the development, annual review and update of security and emergency procedures/plans, and the use of security personnel at extra-curricular activities.

· Conduct in-service safety and security training programs.

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