With Wednesday’s tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida on many parents’ minds, area school officials are evaluating their current safety plans and evacuation protocols. WLBB Radio spoke with both Carrollton City Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Albertus and Bremen City Schools Superintendent David Hicks Thursday about their districts and safety plans for active shooters.
“We take the safety of our staff and students extremely seriously and we are always looking at how we can get better with our safety protocols. I think looking at the Florida situation our teachers in general have come a long way in understanding the importance of locking their doors over the years. Our teachers do an incredible job with that. This situation where the fire alarm was pulled, I think we are going to take a hard look at scheduling our fire drills. There won’t be any surprise fire drills. We have the technology nowadays to be able to quickly locater and see where a fire alarm has been pulled and we are going to be extremely prudent going forward that we both keep the kids and the staff safe when it comes to fire and any other emergency like that. but we will also not put our kids at risk for someone who is purposefully trying to evacuate the building,” said Albertus about the Carrolton City Schools plans.
Within the last couple of years, the school district installed an emergency lockdown system known as the shield system at Carrollton Junior High School. This system allows administrators to immediately lock every exterior door at the school with the push of a button. Albertus described these security measures: “We have that and systems like it at our schools that will either automatically or at the touch of a button; it will lock down the entire campus. Currently at our feeder schools, we have all our outside exterior doors locked. The high school is a different animal. There are so many different buildings and the kids travel to and from the buildings. But when our new high school is complete, that will have a state of the art security system. Entrance and exit type systems that will be controlled by the administration.”
Bremen City Schools Superintendent David Hicks said that in his district, school safety discussions are ongoing and never ending, “The reality is, there is never a guarantee. There is never a guarantee that you can absolutely positively prevent tragedy of this magnitude. With that being said, if you make it an ongoing conversation and an ongoing process of ever improving safety protocol, then I think you improve your odds.”
Hicks continued, saying that officials have been in the process of evaluating each of the district’s campuses.
“Bill Garrett, who is one of central office administrators, is working with our director of facilities and maintenance and they are spearheading a safety committee that is working with our principals to see how we can better secure our entrances. What else can we do to provided a buffer between coming in the front doors and getting access in the hallway? We are having those conversations: building walls or some other features where there is at least a buffer, emergency buttons that can silently alert law enforcement when someone enters that is there to do harm. We have also coded each of our campuses that only law enforcement has a key to. So they have visual access to our camera system.”
Details are emerging of very disturbing social media posts left by the shooting suspect prior to Wednesday’s incident. Albertus said he is an advocate of the community reporting to authorities any time they see alarming or concerning posts.
“I’m a big advocate of people communicating with authorities and that’s myself included. I’m a part of this community and I really recommend folks that if they see any sort of suspicious activity on social media or any type of communication out there, to let their authorities know and let them investigate it. I’m not advocating for us to give up our individual freedom or privacy but we have got to be more vigilant when we see odd or disturbing behavior on social media. We have got to report it to authorities,” commented Albertus.
Hicks said it make sense to be on the lookout for alarming or concerning posts on-line, “We have the good fortune of being smaller and so we can more easily know the kids a little more than a big high school. One in particular thing that we have the benefit of is the high school principal openly shares his cell phone. All the kids have his number. Our administrators make it very easy to contact them and what we hope that dose in building relationships is if they see something on social media the night before, they would feel comfortable calling our administrators.”
Bremen staff and administrators took part in a training exercise today hosted by Ambucare that showed them how to stop a major bleed until EMS can arrive on the scene following an accident.
Carrollton City Schools lowered their flags to half staff this week honoring the school massacre victims.
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