New lockdown system in the works for RBHS in light of Ohio shooting

New lockdown system in the works for RBHS in light of Ohio shooting

Parker Sutherland

Shots fired: Nov. 21 featured a school-wide lockdown as shots were fired on Providence Road near the Columbia Area Career Center. Photo by Parker Sutherland

Administrators here are rethinking RBHS lockdown policy in light of the school shooting in Chardon, Ohio.

T.J. Lane, a student at Lake Academy school for troubled students, allegedly walked into  Chardon High School in Ohio and fired 10 shots killing three students and wounding two others  Monday, Jan. 27.

The shooting has underscored the need for schools to be vigilant in having systems to deal with such a tragedy.
“I think we have a good program in place. I think at our school our kids, at least on the MSIP survey, would say they feel relatively safer than other schools,” assistant principal Diane Bruckerhoff said. “Survey results have shown in our district that we try to provide a culture that our kids have mutual respect for us and us for them, and I think that is what makes our culture such a safe environment. Lastly, I think our kids are concerned enough about people that if they did feel that [tell friends they might bring a gun to school] someone was up to something they would want to tell an adult, and not lose a life.”
RBHS senior Elsa Neal said she felt these events could happen anywhere at any time and that the best way to prevent it is to make personal connections with as many other students as possible. Still, she said overall RBHS is a home to her and she isn’t too worried of something of this nature happening at the school.
School shootings “are kind of scary and always freak me out, but I think I feel safe at my school, but then again it’s like you never know,” Neal said. The Ohio shooting “makes me think I should be more open to a person who approaches me and if I approach them and not try to judge them, which I really already try to do, but I feel like you just kind of have to be there for somebody and make sure you are helping them out.”
Bruckerhoff, who is in charge of emergency drills at RBHS, said school officials are prepared for emergency situations. She thinks the Ohio shooting is not likely to happen at the school based on the environment RBHS produces.
Bruckerhoff said that shootings such as those that took place in Ohio and even as far back as the 1999 Columbine  school shooting have made the district think twice about the system that is in place now. RBHS is under the lockdown system where people are to go into classrooms and lock the doors, but she said a new system is currently in the works for administration.
“Based on [what police discovered after] Columbine, during the lockdown everyone just sort of went into their classrooms which is still kind of what we are doing,” Bruckerhoff said. “But we have also informed out teachers that, if we would know perhaps that there was a shooter… they would take their classes and begin to run because you don’t want to be sitting ducks. But there will probably be some district-wide training on that, called A.L.I.C.E. It is getting out where the shooter is, getting as many people out as possible, doing it over the intercom trying to throw the shooter off guard a little bit  and that might also be more time where we can get more people out.”
A.L.I.C.E (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate), a program of Response Options founded in 2002 by Lisa and Greg Crane, is a training system for all citizens on options for survival when faced with an active shooter. The system was formed from studying the Columbine shootings on what could have been changed to save greater numbers of people, if not all.
Officer Keisha Edwards said she did not feel the current RBHS model for dealing with an internal threat is good enough. She said an active shooter situation dictates greater parameters to be taken for students and faculty to stay safe.
“I do not [feel the current model is the safest],” Edwards said. “Based upon the Columbine shootings, the FBI took basically videos, the 911 call and basically studied that whole entire tape and basically learned from it that the lockdown method is not always the safest.”
Edwards said the scenario really dictates what actions need to be taken inside the school, but she gave instances where she absolutely stands firm in the belief that a lockdown method is very ineffective at the moment, a change imminent.
“For instance you have a shooter in the building; why must everyone go inside their classroom and shut their doors and lock the door if there is an active shooter in the building?” Edwards said. “Lets say he’s on the north side of the building, so we are telling everyone on the south side to stay in the classroom. What if there is a door at the south end of the building?”
Program A.L.I.C.E. prepares administration for this type of lockdown scenario by dictated action, said Edwards, who has been to training. The program’s website also details that action should be taken by people under invasion by an intruder but says it should be common sense action. Response Options does not encourage action to be taken against the shooter, but promotes that if you are inside the area of the intruder to barricade the doors, and if you are not to evacuate and get out of unnecessary danger.
“Do we want you to get out of the school, or stay inside the classroom? Even with the doors locked, there is an active shooter in the building,” Edwards said. “Do bullets defeat locks? So we are saying essentially to stay inside the classroom when there is a door at the end of the hallway where people can evacuate.”
Although RBHS has had no incidence of a student bringing a gun to school, on Nov. 21, 2011, a shooting just outside of RBHS on Providence Road caused the administration to close off the doors to the outside of the school and issue an external lockdown.
“You might not even have been aware of tha,t but we did do a lockdown of all the exterior doors, and we were following up with police at that time about who was involved in that,” Bruckerhoff said.
By Parker Sutherland