The SAFE Training shows faculty and students how to barricade themselves if a shooter enters a school, and how to create distractions to escape and/or attack the attacker. The District 56 Board of Trustees was brought up to date on the training at its monthly meeting Monday evening in the Clinton High School Auditorium.
The training instructs in “standard response protocol,” Assistant Superintendent Dr. David Pitts said. Training for students is being arranged now. Pitts said faculty in each District 56 school will design a training consistent with their student body. Elementary students’ training, naturally, would be different from high school students’ training.
Pitts said, “We have some high school students, middle school too, who are large enough to confront an intruder.” That would not be recommended training for elementary students, who could “shelter in place.”
Lessons in the intruder training come from deadly attacks at Columbine High School, Denver, and Virginia Tech University. Pitts said the training offered District 56 teachers was done by Jon Baker of Presbyterian College Campus Safety.
At the annual convention of the National Association of Campus Safety Administrators, Larry Mulhall, director of safety and risk management and campus police, and Captain Baker, campus police officer, were recognized. Mulhall received the NASCA Medal of Excellence in Campus Law Enforcement. This award recognizes a campus law enforcement leader based on his or her leadership, experience, education and professional development within the campus law enforcement community.
Baker was chosen as the NASCA Campus Police Officer of the Year for his training of more than 400 local teachers and staff at 12 different schools in the Clinton-Laurens area on how to respond to an active shooter incident in their schools. Both awards were chosen by members of NASCA, a statement on the PC website said.
Pitts said the training teaches people in schools how not to be “sitting ducks.” The Laurens County Emergency Management Office has been instrumental in sending administrators to Columbine, scene of an April 20, 1999 deadly attack, for specialized training, Pitts said. He added that in the future, plans are to have at least one school board member attend the training.
“It is well worth the money,” Pitts said.
At Clinton High School, the Principal’s Cabinet / School Improvement Council will discuss in October how to get parents more involved in promoting a safe schools environment, and training students how to survive an attack.
Steps to be taken if a school is under attack include Lockout, Lockdown, Evacuation and Shelter in Place. Board Member Tammy Stewart said she had the training in District 55, and one strategy shown was in elementary classrooms where there are a teacher and an aide - one adult would lead the children to safety, the other adult would distract and/or attack the attacker.
Pitts said at Virginia Tech, a lesson learned was students who barricade a classroom door survive a shooting, and those who don’t, might not.
District 56 also is bringing first responders on campuses to get them familiar with the lay-outs of schools. School Resource Officers, Emergency Medical Technicians, Police and Sheriff’s officers are invited, and the next tour in the district will be Sept. 14 at Joanna Woodson and Eastside elementary schools. Four years ago, District 56 started installing buzz-in and buzz-out systems for its schools - elementary schools were first, then the middle school (during renovation) and Clinton High was added this summer. It is more work for the front desk staff, Pitts said, but it is an important, added safety measure. At CHS, it was expanded to include not just the front door, but two important inside access doors.
Making the elementary schools even safer is the district’s next public safety objective, Pitts said.
In other business, Superintendent Dr. David O’Shields said on Day 5, district attendance was 2,888 - just about where administrators thought it would be. He said, “We still anticipate more students by Day 10.” All schools are fully staffed, he said.
O’Shields said by the end of this football season, District 56 will be prepared to spend $1.4 million on upgrades to Wilder Stadium. Debt for the new baseball-softball complex at Clinton High will be paid off, and the district will be able to tap its 8% money (allowed by state law, up to eight percent assessment of total taxable property in the district) for the Wilder upgrades.
Work will include improving handicapped access, installing restrooms and overhauling concession stands. Wilder Stadium will have Clinton Red Devil football games Sept. 1 (vs. Greer) and Sept. 8 (vs. Aiken).
(Photo: active shooter training at Hickory Tavern School)