St. Charles Herald-Guide

Schools say safety priority following mass shooting

By Kyle Barnett - December 23, 2012

Parents of children who attend St. Charles Parish Public Schools received a voice message from Superintendent Dr. Rodney Lafon on Monday concerning the mass school shooting that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. last week.

Lafon said the school systemís "hearts and prayers" were with the families of Newtown.

"Fridayís senseless shooting spree that killed at least 27 people, including 20 children, is not only heartbreaking but unconscionable," Lafon said. "We want you to know the safety and security of our students and employees are a priority and the school system promotes a culture where everyone has a responsibility to be focused on safety."

He ended the message by asking parents to join him in prayer and positive thoughts for the affected community.

The school system also sent out a press release outlining safety measures St. Charles Parish Public Schools takes to protect students and faculty from violence.

"The school system implements proactive measures to provide a safe and secure learning environment," the press release read.

Those measures include safety and security checks, surveillance cameras, agency coordination training exercises aimed at responding to shooters, school resource and DARE officers, safe school drills, visitor management systems and online safety training.

"District policies and procedures relative to safety and security are regularly reviewed to determine improvement opportunities," the press release read. "Employees receive annual training on a variety of emergency situations to assist in providing the safest possible environment."

In the St. Charles Parish Public Schools emergency guide, guidelines are laid out for how to deal with an armed intruder.

Upon seeing someone in a school with a gun, the witness is to notify the school office who should then call 911 and the superintendentís office. The school will then implement pre-rehearsed lockdown procedures including securing all students and staff while awaiting orders from law enforcement officials. The school system should also send out messages to inform parents and guardians of the situation and what steps will be taken next. Those include assessing the counseling needs of students and staff.

The guide encourages parents to not come to the school should such a situation occur and to await official information and make arrangements for an early release if necessary.