Superintendent Mike Murphy said the R-XIII School District is evaluating its current crisis management plan to make sure everything continues to be done within its means to ensure safety of students in school.
Murphy said in the wake of the shooting tragedy in Newtown, Conn., in which a gunman broke into the school and killed 20 pupils and six adults before killing himself has prompted a review of St. Clair’s plan.
“We’re looking at our current crisis management plan and are evaluating the training district employees have received,” Murphy told The Missourian earlier this week. “As a district, we always do the best we can to be prepared for any kind of crisis, regardless of what it may be.”
The superintendent said the crisis plan traditionally is reviewed annually, but because of what happened at the elementary school in Connecticut, he and other district administrators want to make sure everything that can be done is being done.
“We’re looking at safety in all of our buildings,” Murphy said, adding he may even call for an audit dealing strictly with security measures at the high school, junior high, Edgar Murray and St. Clair Elementary.
He said the district may address the current policy that allows front doors at the junior and senior high schools to be unlocked during the school day.
“We’ll be looking at additional attempts to secure those facilities,” Murphy said. “And we’ll be looking at ways to improve our plan that wouldn’t be too costly.”
The high school also has several additional buildings it uses during the course of the day. Murphy said that will be reviewed, too.
He said, however, that he is “pleased” with what the district already has in place as far as security measures. Those include locked outside doors at both elementaries with a buzzer system allowing entry and a camera surveillance system throughout the district.
“But, we will continue to review all of our practices, including our drill structure,” he said. “We will continue to analyze all procedures we have in place.”
As part of the district’s security plan, Murphy said a crisis management team is in place. It includes administrators and teachers from each building as well as emergency responders such as police officers, firefighters and ambulance personnel. Some district employees have attended crisis training courses established through the Missouri Safe Schools and Colleges Conference.
“Obviously, we’ve had things in place before the Connecticut incident,” Murphy said. “But this tragedy has caused us to continue our element of focus of security and safety within the district.
“There is no way we ever will be able to truly ensure 100 percent safety,” he said, “but we work hard on providing a safe environment that also is a learning environment. That is becoming increasingly challenging.”
The district’s crisis management plan contains sections on responding to emergencies, checklists, reporting incidents, precautions, responding to incidents, evacuation procedures and lockdown procedures. Information also is included on how to deal with specific crises, such as a kidnapping or shooting, bomb threats or hazardous leaks and fires, earthquakes and severe storms.
Specific details of the plan cannot be released because of security reasons.
Toward the end of the 2011-2012 academic year, Lonedell School Principal Jen Ulrich updated the school’s safety plan in an attempt to better communicate with all parties that would be involved in case some kind of emergency occurred.
“I just thought it was time to do it,” Ulrich told The Missourian at the time. “One of the ultimate goals with this is to make sure what everyone needs to know ahead of time if something happens. We want to make sure everyone involved is better informed.”
The plan would be put into effect during any kind of emergency. When she presented the plan to school board members, she directed them through a power point presentation to provide details.
Emergency responders have copies of the plan as do certain district employees.
“We just want to make sure we continue to have a good plan in place,” Ulrich said. “We want to make sure any updated information is given to the authorities.”
As far as some of the building updates that have taken place, all doors and windows have numbers posted on them, including on the outside, so emergency responders know exactly where to go if needed. To assist in that effort, inside hallways are color-coded.
“That way, if we say there’s a fire in the red hallway near whatever door number, everyone will know exactly where we’re talking about,” the principal said. “Information also will include where shutoff valves are and any other important information.”
Superintendent Fred VanBibber and Ulrich were not available to comment if any additional items have been checked or done since the Connecticit school tragedy occurred.