Police plan for safer year at Washington Middle School

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) Green Bay Police say progress made this summer should ensure all schools are safe for students and staff.

Classes are back in session for many students Tuesday morning. That includes the Green Bay Area Public School District.

Washington Middle School will no doubt be closely watched, after teacher Kerstin Westcott resigned months ago, saying violence, abuse and aggressive students were rampant problems.

Police reported 132 calls to Washington last year, which is dozens more than the other middle schools in the district.

Police are confident this school year will be safer.

As students head to class Tuesday, Green Bay Police officers will greet students and parents at nearly every school, helping welcome them back and get kids and parents comfortable around officers.

"To know that we're your friend, that you see an officer and you need help, that's the person you need to go and ask for help because that's what we're there for," explains Green Bay Police Commander Jim Runge.

Police hope it helps everyone feel safe but also shows security and safety are a priority at all schools, especially Washington Middle School.

"First day at Washington is going to be important for everybody to kick it off... clean slate, fresh start," says Runge.

When Westcott first raised concerns to the school board, they included students receiving little to no consequence for bad behavior.

Police say the first week is critical in setting the tone for the year.

This summer, the district rolled out a new multi-level program for dealing with behavior and discipline problems at all schools.

Police say they met with school administrators throughout the summer, looking for ways to improve communication and continually monitor activity at all schools.

"That's one of the goals, to make sure, if something happens, that everybody that needs to know, knows right away," says Runge. "We have already set up a monthly meeting with command staff and high level administrators at the school district, so we will evaluate monthly, more often if we need to, but I don't think we will."

The district also held listening sessions for parents and teachers this summer and added more staff at Washington. In August, Action 2 News reported Washington had 14 vacant positions. A school board member tells us all teaching positions there have now been filled.

"There will be no lack of communication, and I think it's going to be a successful great year," adds Runge.

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