The Indiana Area School District, in collaboration with Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Representative Jim Struzzi, and the Indiana County Tourist Bureau, will present a safety and security symposium on March 15 at IUP’s Kovalchick Convention
and Athletic Complex.
This event, free and open to the community, is designed to provide information to benefit all the stakeholders in the education community, offering resources to help prepare organizations to continue the discussion on safety and security in schools.
Presenters include experts from IUP and throughout the state, including representatives from the Office of Attorney General, Beard Legal Group, Pennsylvania State Police, 911 Emergency Operations Center, Safe2Say Something, Pennsylvania School Boards
Association, the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN), and other community agencies.
Act 48 credits are available, and preregistration for the conference is required. The conference schedule and registration information are available online.
Indiana Area School District Superintendent Michael Vuckovich and Tim Runge, IUP Department of Educational and School Psychology, at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex, site of the Safety and Security Symposium
IASD Superintendent Mike Vuckovich developed the program, which he designed to be “out of the box thinking” on this topic—beyond a call for more security guards, alarms, or other physical infrastructures designed to provide barriers to persons seeking
to do harm.
“I believe we can be preventative in our work,” he said. “As a society, we need to work to develop a safe, caring environment for our children and teach our children that feelings are meaningful and mentionable.
“Within this duty is a need to teach our children how to express themselves in a clear and articulate manner, and how to control their emotions to live a healthy and happy life,” Vuckovich said. “Our children need those social and emotional skills, and
we need to be able to have an honest conversation about these needs, meeting our children where they are.
“As a leader in this district, I feel I have a responsibility to educate staff and community about what trauma means, and the importance of how to help our children have a healthier way of looking at themselves and interacting with others.”
Tim Runge, Department of Educational and School Psychology
Vuckovich has worked with IUP Department of Educational and School Psychology faculty member Timothy Runge for the past several years (prior to Vuckovich’s work in the Indiana district), and invited Runge to be part of the planning team for the program.
“Dr. Runge is one of the best in the nation when it comes to socio-emotional learning, positive school behaviors, and interventions and support,” Vuckovich said.
Runge, who has been at IUP for the past 11 years following work at PaTTAN, noted that approximately 20 percent of all youth have untreated mental health needs.
“The issue of security and safety in schools includes both physical security and the recognition of the need to teach social and emotion learning, as well as provide mental health services for children,” Runge said.
“My hope is that people leave the symposium realizing that school safety must be a comprehensive approach that includes mental health services for children. We cannot ignore the mental health needs that are being untreated.”
Daniel Lee, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice
The conference begins with registration from 8:00 to 8:30 a.m. with opening welcome at 8:30 a.m. featuring IUP graduate Gerald Zahorchak, former Pennsylvania Secretary of Education. There are four breakout sessions: 9:15 to 10:30 a.m.; 10:45 a.m. to noon;
1:30 to 2:45 p.m. and 3:00 to 4:15 p.m. Several programs are repeated during the day. Lunch is on your own.
Runge will present “10 Years of Implementing School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports: Positive Outcomes for Students, Schools, and Communities.” He will be joined by the IUP faculty that includes:
Mark McGowan, Department of Educational and School Psychology
Additional presentations and presenters include:
Courtney McLaughlin, Department of Educational and School Psychology