Buckeye Local BOE retains resource officer

DILLONVALE — After months of discussions and no tangible action being taken by Buckeye Local School District Board of Education members, those same officials responded to several calls from constituents at Monday’s regular meeting to take some sort of official action that would begin moving the district toward actions designed to make a very real difference in both prevention and preparedness practices district wide.

Though it was one of the final matters addressed at the three-hour meeting, board members voted to renew the annual contract that maintains a school resource officer for the district through the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Once again, board members votes were divided along familiar lines with Joe Zelek standing apart from his fellow board members when it came to the vote to continue funding the resource officer’s position. Zelek has said he believes the amount paid for the single resource officer and the cruiser he uses are above what they should be.

He continued to argue for support to table the vote on renewing the annual contract with Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department that places Deputy Scott Polen in the school district year round.

But when he called for motion on the idea, it died for a lack of a second from his fellow board members.

Zelek is the only board member who did not support continuing the contract as it is, which allows for Polen to serve as a full-time resource officer within the district, but includes his use of the marked cruiser.

In a related matter, board members responded to a call from several individuals attending the meeting to make a decision that will help make the most of the available resources within the district, in light of the recent defeat of a proposed emergency levy that was verbally committed to covering costs for improving security conditions district wide.

The consensus of answering the ongoing question of where to start the process – and who to look to for professional guidance when it comes to threat assessments and preparedness and the means of improving the district’s condition on both points — came to a very local focus for a solution as the board voted to contract with a safety and security specialist with international credentials who happens to call this district home: Frank Hoagland

Hoagland is a retired U.S. Navy SEAL who spent nearly all his 21 years in the service in that elite group. He operates his business, which is built on that expertise, from 797 Cool Springs Road in Mingo Junction: S.T.A.R.T. – Special Tactics and Rescue Training,

Board members also heard from a parent who happens to be a trooper with the Ohio Highway Patrol, Mason Boyce, who was supportive of the option of securing Hoagland’s expertise on several points, with a paramount one being assessments that will be focused on each building individually.

In attendance at the monthly meetings on a regular basis, Boyce called on the board members to take specific initial steps through top quality avenues – such as are within reach through Hoagland and through current state based resources such as the programs.

Immediately following Boyce’s request for immediate action by the board, which was supported by several other law enforcement entities there are private citizens as well, Board President Naoma Kolkedy called for the board to hire Hoagland.

With a unanimous vote the step was taken by the board, shortly thereafter Hoagland made his professional support of having a resource officer in the schools known as board members discussed what action they would take on that point.

The next meeting of the board has been moved to 8 a.m. on Thursday, June 27 at the Dillonvale offices. Safety committee members hope to have recommendations to bring to the board at that time based on Hoagland’s upcoming assessment.

Loccisano can be reached at kimfromthetl@gmail.com