Parkland sparks safety concerns


Students from Marjory Stoneman-Douglas High School pay tribute to fallen teachers and students during a candle light vigil. (photo used with permission by Getty Images)

Abigail Thomas, Editor-in-chief

Plano ISD reminds campuses of the safety measures that are in place and are practiced year round, in light of one of the deadliest school shootings in US history, which took place in Parkland, Fla.
“Our work in maintaining safe campuses is ongoing throughout the year, not only when tragedies are in the news,” PISD Executive Director of Safety and Security Joseph Parks said.
There are several ways the district prepares campuses for emergencies. SRP, Standard Response Protocol, is a uniform and efficient process used by students and staff to take the emergency actions of Lockdown, Lockout, Evacuate and Shelter. Local law enforcement have also been informed on the SRP so they know how to respond in case of an emergency.
“Each year, during the first week of school, every student in third grade and above and every campus staff member reviews a 30 minute training video on the SRP,” Parks said.
Drills are also in place to simulate these emergency situations so students and teachers know what to do if the need arises.
“At regular intervals throughout the school year, each campus conducts two Lockdown drills, as well as other drills such as shelter, tornado and reverse evacuation drills,” Parks said.
Every staff member has safety training, according to Parks. Each high school has a SRO, School Resource Officer. Each of these police officers participates in annual active shooter and rapid deployment training.
The SROs have attended emergency trauma tourniquet training and have them on hand as well as the school nurses. Campus first responders are also trained twice per year on bleeding control, and school nurses have them and bleeding control supplies on hand.
PISD provides surrounding law enforcement partners key cards and access codes to the schools in order for fast and efficient entry during an emergency.
“We maintain a very close working relationship with local law enforcement agencies who stand ready to bring all available resources to bear in the event of an incident,” Parks said.
This was put into practice at Plano West Senior High School on Feb. 15, the day after the Parkland shooting. Following up on a tip, a student was found in possession of a handgun on campus. No threats were made against the school or the students, the gun was not loaded and there was no ammunition to be found. He was arrested and is facing felony charges for bringing a gun in a prohibited place, according to the Dallas News website.
“Working with the school resource officer, the Plano Police Department became immediately involved and the student was taken into custody,” Plano West Principal Kathy King said. “We want to assure you that we take all security related incidents very seriously and we will always exercise caution regarding matters of safety.”
The next day, at Plano East, a social media post which implied a potential threat towards the school was brought to the attention of administration, according to an email sent out to Plano East families by Principal George King. Campus and district administrators intervened and investigated the alleged threat in partnership with the Plano Police Department. The involved students were quickly identified and after police conducted interviews with them and their parents, the threat was then determined unsubstantiated.
“Students and families are always encouraged to report any information regarding safety and security at our school,” King said. “We appreciate your partnership as we focus to maintain a safe, secure and productive learning environment.”
Due to the growing concerns about the open concept of the senior high campuses, the Safety and Security Offices of PISD have been working on a bond project that will add advanced emergency intercom systems and enhanced access control to the campuses.
“We anticipate these projects will be completed over the upcoming summer,” Parks said.
If students have any concerns or hear of anything concerning, the school has an anonymous tip line at Plano also participates in CrimeStoppers. Students can text TIP197 and the message to 274637. The Plano Police Department tip line is 972-941-2148.
“All of us have been trained and know what to do, but we can’t do anything if we don’t know about it. You guys have got to help us with that,” Plano Senior High School associate principal, Glenn Davis said.
The best way students can stay safe on campus is by being as vigilant as administration. Alerting staff and faculty of potentially unsafe situations is the most effective way of preventing them.
“Teach bell to bell. Let’s stay focused on why we’re here. It’s a good thing. It’s a beautiful thing. Never forget that,” Plano Senior High School principal, Sarah Watkins said.