Wyoming Surveys K-12 Principals
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Oct 01, 2019
Wyoming State Superintendent
is making an effort to
better understand how
the state’s 48 school
districts’ are protecting their students. I know
what you’re thinking. Wyoming is rural and
that’s the last place an incident would happen
at a school. I know The Cowboy State
has a rural atmosphere in some places—I
grew up there.
School principals were emailed a survey
of 20 questions, including what threat assessment
tools they are using; what training
they undergo; how the school secures their
entrances and other security–related topics.
“The intent of the survey is to take the
temperature on what is happening statewide,”
Balow said. “We’re reaching to every
school to find the sweet spot and establish a
policy and set a baseline for campus security.
Our goal is to begin a discussion statewide
on a threat assessment. Every school has a
threat assessment; we just want to see what
various schools have in place.
“We understand that there is no silver
bullet; our goal is the well-being and safety
of every student.”
School districts in Wyoming vary in population
and school size, as you might expect,
so one district is most certainly not deploying
what another district might have in place.
The concern at the state level has been a topic
of discussion in the state legislation, and the
Department of Education. Two mass school
shootings in 2018, in Santa Fe, Texas and in
Parkland, Florida, have prompted Balow
and her staff to move forward, in addition to
an incident where a student brought a loaded
weapon to a Gillette, Wyoming school.
“The state is very diverse in terms of
campus population,” Balow said. “Some
schools are small and there may be a cop
that stops by once a day, but we have much
larger schools where there might be a school
resource office in the building. That is why
the threat assessment is the entry point of
“As a parent, educator and state leader it
is important to take control and have these
important discussions. We simply can’t just
talk about gun control. We have to start with
student safety and well-being.”
I applaud Superintendent Balow for her
continuing efforts and her press for improved
school security. Following the results of her
survey, Balow said she will present them
publicly, which she said will help inform both
her department’s security guidelines and potential
future legislation. No doubt, all states
are grappling with this issue. Good security
measures will offer peace of mind and create
a baseline of security protocols. Policymakers
must have a clearer idea of what is being
offered, and what will help fill their gaps for
an effective campus solution.
This article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of Security Today.
Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.