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Fla. county didn't require active-shooter drills for students

Broward County schools have training for teachers to cover active-shooter situations, but there is no requirement that schools hold active-shooter drills for students


By Larry Barszewski
Sun Sentinel

PARKLAND, Fla. — When a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the students had never been through a schoolwide drill teaching them how to protect themselves.

Broward County, Fla., schools have enhanced training for teachers to cover active-shooter situations, but — 19 years after Columbine and five years after Sandy Hook — there is no requirement that schools hold active-shooter drills for students.

Two police officers carry blank weapons as they participate in an active shooter exercise with police, emergency workers, teachers and administrators on September 12, 2015, at Oak Knoll School in Cary, Ill. (Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
Two police officers carry blank weapons as they participate in an active shooter exercise with police, emergency workers, teachers and administrators on September 12, 2015, at Oak Knoll School in Cary, Ill. (Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Students at Stoneman Douglas have been drilled about what to do if there is a fire or tornado, but not for when someone shows up with an AR-15 rifle.

Nikolas Cruz is accused of killing 17 staff and students at Stoneman Douglas Feb. 14 and wounding 16 more.

“I know that my school, we go through fire drills every month and we have not had our lockdown drill yet this year,” junior Carson Abt told President Donald Trump during a meeting at the White House after the shooting.

She said she supported “a change that will increase all the trainings and protocols so if, God forbid, another shooting does happen, at least all the teachers will be prepared and can hopefully keep their students calm.”

Stoneman Douglas teachers received “Code Red” training in January, designed for threats inside the school and classrooms that require the school to be locked down. Included in the Code Red training are scenarios that include active shooters, Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said Friday.

After receiving the training, teachers are supposed to outline different scenarios to students and explain what they should do. A Code Red drill was scheduled for this month, March, district officials said.

That doesn’t comfort some students.

“We didn’t have a drill where there were actors, where there was like fake blood and there was stuff like that. We had a talk, and a talk is not a drill,” student David Hogg said during a meeting Wednesday at the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Still, Runcie said law enforcement on the scene credited the actions of teachers with saving lives.

“It was something that was top of mind for the faculty and the students,” he said of the training.

In Palm Beach County, Code Red drills are conducted twice a year, before Oct. 31 and in January, officials said.

The drills involve students, teachers and staff. During the drills, “everyone holds in place, no phones (are) used, no one comes to or leaves campus, etc., as would be the case in an active shooter situation,” school district spokeswoman Julie Houston Trieste said.

Broward County requires only that schools hold one “critical incident” drill each year, which could be based on an active shooter, a bomb threat or some other emergency. Runcie said many schools will have drills that cover every scenario.

The school district also has been developing a more-comprehensive active shooter training program for middle and high school faculty. The training has been done at the elementary school level over the past several years.

©2018 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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