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Apollo-Ridge High School security officer favors limiting access

| Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, 12:36 a.m.

Parents of Apollo-Ridge High School students bringing forgotten lunches and gym bags to their children could soon be forced to drop them off without ever entering the school.

Improving security at the high school's entrance became part of the discussion when Kiski Township police Officer Seth Hosack, the district's new school resource officer, gave a presentation on his duties to the school board Monday.

The school board in January approved an agreement with Kiski Township that will see an armed officer stationed at the district's campus through the 2013-14 school year. Hosack has been at the district since September.

Hosack recently attended a training session for school resource officers in Bethel Park organized by the National Association of School Resource Officers. He said he found the information provided “mind-boggling.”

Hosack said school resource officers can help improve grades and test scores by helping students feel safe.

He discussed his roles in the school in the areas of law enforcement, as an “informal counselor,” and as a teacher.

But he stressed he is not there to replace teachers as disciplinarians or to replace guidance counselors in offering advice to students.

Besides his presence, having a police car visible at the school prevents crime, he said.

“The car, itself, has prevented some situations,” he said, adding that people “calm down” when they see the car.

Hosack said handling cases of child abuse or neglect would fall upon him, and being at the school allows him to start investigations faster.

His presence can also discourage student from using drugs and alcohol, which Hosack said he is trained to detect.

Board member Rick Fetterman brought up the idea of not allowing in parents who are bringing things such as forgotten lunch and gym bags to students.

Rather than being allowed into the school to take things to the office, parents could instead drop off such things in the school's lobby, he said.

The lobby has two rows of doors, but only the outside doors are locked. Fetterman said he would prefer that the second row of doors also be locked. Hosack agreed the doors are an issue.

Superintendent Matt Curci said district officials will look at security at the entrance.

Hosack agreed to provide routine updates to district officials.

District mum on settlement

The school board approved the resignation of secondary math teacher Dale Bartell effective Feb. 22, and a related settlement agreement with Bartell and the Apollo-Ridge Education Association.

District officials would not immediately provide a copy of the agreement or say why Bartell resigned.

Bartell started at Apollo-Ridge in the 2007-08 school year.

Attempts to reach Bartell after the meeting were unsuccessful.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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