Superintendent, Kent Taylor from Lennox School District plays an active role in keeping the students of his district safe by serving on the district’s Safety Committee, along with other leaders, staff and faculty within the district. Lennox SD is located in an unincorporated area of Los Angeles in the flight path of LAX, yet has busy, narrow, urban streets with schools very near the 405 freeway – a difficult area to access during an emergency.
Superintendent Taylor posed to the safety committee that “it is our priority to keep students and staff safe even during the worst situations. We need to have updated plans in place and then practice.” The Lennox team turned to their ASCIP partner for assistance and began to plan a drill – a shooter on campus scenario at their middle school. One of ASCIP’s service partners is retired from law enforcement and has school resource officer experience. The ASCIP risk services team began working with the Lennox Safety Committee to assure the plan was updated and then began to assist in the drill preparations. The local emergency services were included which added realism to the event and allowed the sheriff and fire departments to become familiar with the school campus and to practice their skills as well.
“The drill scenarios were changed several times as we prepared”, according to Rachel Romero, Elementary School Counselor and school safety liaison on the safety committee. Romero shared that one scenario had the shooters right outside the special education classroom, but the commotion would be too disruptive to the autism students, so an alternate location across campus was selected instead. Rachel stated “the staff at the school really embraced the drill. They talked to the students about cell phone use during an incident and what could happen during a real incident”. Staff knew what day the drill would occur, but not the specific time or details. They were all supportive. The drama teacher coached student volunteers in their roles as injured, shock victims and even dead. ASCIP assisted staff in preparing parent notifications and permission forms. The sheriff team distributed notifications of the drill to the local community, since streets would be blocked off and emergency services would converge on the scene.
During the drill, the sheriff department added realism by providing two shooters, instead of one that had been planned for. The school principal was absent at the time of the “shooting”, so the assistant principal was placed into a lead role that she hadn’t expected. Superintendent Taylor purposely stayed away, since it would have impeded the site leadership opportunity to train and be better prepared. There were many lessons learned from this drill including that you need to know your role then stay within your role. Romero shared, “Instinctively, we each want to jump in and help in other areas. We must trust our team members to do their roll.” The sheriff department was pleased with the outcome and experience. It was beneficial for them to be on the school campus to train, rather than to just visualize from a school map. The lessons learned from the drill experience were later shared during a Lennox leadership training, provided by ASCIP, to help the entire district be better prepared.
September is designated as National Preparedness Month – have you reviewed your district’s disaster plans recently? Are you ready to put your plans to action and schedule some drills? Let ASCIP help you “Prepare for the Worst”! Contact your Risk Services Consultant today for assistance.