Tonganoxie, McLouth school administrators discuss protocol, security procedures in wake of Connecticut shootings
A shooting Friday inside a Connecticut elementary school that has left 27 people dead is the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history behind the Virginia Tech tragedy in 2007, which claimed 33 lives.
Locally, school officials say there are security measures in place and protocol they follow for emergency preparedness.
In Tonganoxie, USD 464 Superinendent Randy Weseman said Friday faculty and staff practice procedures throughout the year dealing with threats, such as an intruder.
“Faculty, custodians, everyone is in on the mix on this and everyone has a job to do,” Weseman said. “Everyone’s involved when you’re in a lockdown situation.”
Weseman said many schools revamped protocol following the Columbine High School shooting in 1999 that killed 12 students, a teacher and the two shooters in Littleton, Colo.
The Tonganoxie superintendent said the district works with local law enforcement and Leavenworth County’s emergency preparedness agency in creating its protocol.
“Communication is key. It gets pretty in-depth in terms of contingencies,” Weseman said, noting there are plans for various situations, including power outages.
He also said he is working on literature to provide to parents if their children have difficulties in coping with news of tragedies such as Friday’s shootings.
“Kids have questions about it,” Weseman said. “I’ve been working on something that I can put out about talking to your kids when these kinds of things happen ... providing resources for helping kids who maybe are having difficulty digesting this crisis.”
USD 464 has three campuses, with the middle and elementary schools having one building each and the high school consisting of two buildings.
Weseman said he was looking at ways to improve traffic patterns on the high school campus with students moving between the two buildings.
Security has been increased on the campuses in the last year with key card entry for faculty and staff and more surveillance cameras in place.
McLouth USD 342 Superintendent Steve Splichal said his district has similar protocols in place with a crisis plan.
“I know that we’ve engaged with the local law enforcement community to work through scenarios that might arise,” he said. “The district has undertaken a great deal of effort to ensure the safety and security of staff and students with getting access to the facility, key codes, cameras and those kinds of things.”
All USD 342 grades are contained in one building. Splichal thought the limited outdoor transition to be beneficial. He also said that living in a rural community translates to residents being cognizant of suspicious behavior.
“They kind of know who people are and I think we kind of watch out for each other in those instances,” Splichal said.
The McLouth superintendent said he was unsure whether having all grade levels under one roof was an advantage from a security standpoint, “but it keeps our family close, I guess.”