The Edmond Sun

Opinion

December 18, 2012

Reviewing school crisis plans

OKLA. CITY — I spent the weekend thinking about how incomprehensible it is that anyone could take the lives of 20 elementary school children, the six adults who tried to protect them and his own mother. I cannot fathom the grief engulfing the Newtown, Conn., community right now. The stories of heroism by teachers and school personnel are inspiring. Every day teachers do courageous things for our children. I have no doubt that they and the fallen adults did not have a moment’s hesitation in response to this horrifying situation. To say my thoughts and prayers go out to them is too small an offering.

With the enormity of what happened in Connecticut still rocking the consciousness of the nation, I know that every parent in America is asking the same questions — how safe is my school? How did this happen? How could this be avoided? Those questions are being asked by Oklahoma parents, grandparents, educators and virtually each citizen of our state. Over time there will be answers concerning the attacker’s motive, but for now all of us must turn our focus on assuring that we have done everything possible to assure the safety of Oklahoma’s children in their classrooms.

I am confident that every school district in our state right now is focused on reviewing their safety plans and redoubling their efforts to make sure their policies are strong. In Oklahoma, every public school district is required to have a crisis plan that is reviewed and updated annually, as appropriate. They also are required to perform a minimum of two lockdown drills per school year that must conform to the procedures established by their school board. The situation in each of our districts varies with respect to the architectural configuration of each site, the availability of first responders and the district’s own policy concerning communications with families in the event of a lockdown.

I urge each district in the state to review these policies with their boards to determine if the policies need to be revised and then to assure that each employee of the district is very familiar with the policy and procedures. Every employee must know their roll in the event of a emergency such as this. I was impressed with the tornado disaster drill I had the opportunity to observe in the Jenks School District last spring. Students played the roles of victims while staff worked to form command teams that coordinated with first responders, helped to triage the “wounded” and made sure all students stayed safe until they were reunited with parents.

The point of the exercise was to assess the school’s safety plan; it is an exercise repeated each year with different disaster scenarios. I was impressed by not only the comprehensive nature of the drill and the coordination by all first responders with the Jenks school personnel but also by the way that every tiny detail of the response during the drill was observed, discussed and a plan developed on how to continually improve their response to this emergency. I applaud their efforts and urge each district to consider conducting a similar drill not only for natural disasters but also for those procedures that must take place to secure buildings in the event that a threat to student safety should occur.

As each district reviews their plan, I want to remind them that additional resources are available from the U.S. Department of Education that can be accessed on the State Department of Education’s Youth Violence Prevention website.

I know that each and every one of us are focused on assuring day in and day out that each child in our state is safe and feels safe within their school. Through vigilance and constant communication among educators, parents and law enforcement, we can work together toward that goal.

May God bless the memories of the fallen.

JANET BARRESI is state superintendent of public instruction of Oklahoma. She may be reached via her website at http://ok.gov/sde/.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • 'Too big to fail' equals 'too eager to borrow'

    Four years ago this month, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act into law, promising that the 848-page financial law would “put a stop to taxpayer bailouts once and for all,” he said. But recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren told a Detroit crowd that “the biggest banks are even bigger than they were when they got too big to fail in 2008.”
    Who’s right?

    July 30, 2014

  • Sheltons travel for better life for family

    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at www.edmondsun.com show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014

Poll

The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
Undecided
     View Results