Local school officials continue reevaluating their safety procedures, following last month’s school shooting in Florida. The Eastern Pulaski School Board got an update Monday from the corporation’s school safety specialists, Middle School Principal Ryan Dickinson and High School Principal Rick DeFries, along with Chris Schramm from the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office.
Schramm said he’s confident that Eastern Pulaski Schools are as safe as they can be, but potential criminals are adapting. He explained that over the past few weeks, he’s been meeting with teachers and offering tips for how they could improve their classrooms’ safety. Schramm added that Sheriff Jeff Richwine is encouraging his deputies to patrol schools at night, to familiarize themselves with the layout.
Principal DeFries said he’s been discussing safety issues with teachers and will soon start having conversations with students. He added that safety drills are taking place, sometimes involving the entire school and sometimes one classroom at a time.
DeFries said that during a lock-down, students are being told to stay quiet and stay off Facebook, to avoid sharing their location with potential intruders. Once they’re in their quiet location, students are allowed to send text messages to their parents to let them know they’re safe, but they’re told not to share more information, such as their location. Similarly, school officials say they aren’t sharing their response plans for specific scenarios with the general public, to avoid giving it to those who may intend to harm students.
However, Schramm said there are a few noticeable changes being made. For example, teachers are now locking classroom doors regularly. Principal Dickinson noted that more teachers are using the School Guard app. It allows teachers to immediately report an incident to all police officers in the local area. DeFries added that he’s in the process of organizing the emergency procedures into flip charts for easy access during emergencies.
During Monday’s meeting, Eastern Pulaski Superintendent Dan Foster thanked all those involved for their efforts. “It’s been almost four weeks now, and that panic that goes through and the reality that things can happen anywhere, and if you didn’t see the news release today about the event from last week locally, things can happen anywhere,” he said. “It’s like homeowners insurance. Boy, all this time we’ve spent doing this and doing this and meeting with the teachers and talking with students and having the students drill and all this, you hope you never need it.”
One of the next steps, according to Foster, will be to have an Indiana State Police officer come an give a presentation on school safety. Schramm said that similar efforts are also taking place at the West Central School Corporation.