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Active Shooter Trainings and Disaster Recovery Plans

By Aliza Jones posted 09-10-2013 05:39 PM

Two years ago I began writing Disaster Recovery plans for 25 school districts in Arkansas. Initially, this was to insure their compliance with Legislative Audit, but as the process evolved, the "need" became evident. Today, I am assisting districts in truly being able to see the importance of having a plan for "after" a disaster. A way to reconstitute their district or devolution plan of where students would need to go during the recovery process. These plans account for everything from natural to technological disasters.

Then, in December of 2012, another type of disaster hit public schools; though not the first, it was indeed one of the most tragic. The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. It was then I realized that these disaster plans needed an element of how to recover from a shooting on school grounds.  The week of Sandy Hook I sent an email to my 25 districts, asking them if they would like me to "dress up and try to penetrate their buildings". Crazy, right? But I did it for a half dozen of my districts. And in every instance I was able to get into the schools, go through the school (classrooms, kitchens, cafeterias, libraries, even taking stuff out of buildings) and not a single person stopped me, asked who I was or anything. I did not look like me; I was in a hoodie which I had pulled up, jeans, hiking boots, and kept my head low).  From here, I began working on a presentation to present to administrations and staff on what to do in the event of an armed intruder in the building or even a stranger in the building. I worked closely with and included local law enforcement in my presentation; thus far, the training sessions have been well received with a bit of sadness and surprise.

Though we all try to build schools to have the highest level of security; the strongest aspect of a school to insure security is the staff. The staff must understand this is a changing world and they MUST become aware of their surroundings and people in their buildings.

I go Thursday to yet another district, and I hope that my efforts will continue to give confidence to staff and administrators. We can build the best, but the bad guys will get in. We must prepare and practice and educate ourselves on what to do if and when that happens.