Number of active shooter drills in schools questioned

A law enforcement official Wednesday suggested the Legislature should re-visit the new requirement that schools conduct nine so-called crisis, or active shooter drills per year. 

During the last legislative session, the requirement was inserted in the final appropriations bill without any public notice or comment.  

On Wednesday, the Legislative Budget Committee, which includes budget leaders from the House and Senate, reviewed the issue. 

Ed Klumpp, who represents three law enforcement associations, said he has heard concerns about the number of drills required. 

“Some believe the number is too large and some believe drills involving only emergency responders and school staff without involving students should be allowed to count,” Klumpp said. 

“Clearly lockdown procedures, evacuation and reuniting students, staff and parents require student participation. However, the coordination of school staff, emergency dispatchers and the first responders are a critical component that can be accomplished without student participation and needs to also be drilled,” he said. 

He said law enforcement must plan with school officials about getting access to school video and communications systems and how to enter buildings on lockdown. 

Committee Chair Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, said the Legislature put forward the required drills to start the dialogue on what was necessary. 

The drill requirement was added as a proviso and only applies to this school year, so it would have to be reconsidered in 2019 to either continue the program or alter it. 

The proviso said schools must conduct at least 16 emergency preparedness drills during the school year, including at least 9 crisis drills, four fire drills and three tornado drills. Prior to the change, schools were required to do 12 fire drills and three tornado drills. 

Brenda McNorton, chief of the Prevention Division of the State Fire Marshal’s Office, said the office has issued a variance that allows school administrators to announce a drill within five minutes of the drill taking place. “This variance allows the staff and students to know that the drill is legitimate, but it does not pre-announce the drill too far in advance, possibly allowing someone with ill-intent to use the drill for other purposes,” she said.  

School officials, in addition to Klumpp, thanked legislators for focusing on school safety.  

KASB urges school officials to talk to their legislative representatives about the emergency drill requirement and other safety issues. Student safety and security will be the focus of upcoming KASB Fall Regional meetings. 

Meetings have been scheduled at these locations and dates: Pratt on Sept. 25; Haysville on Sept. 26; Girard on Sept. 27; Lawrence on Oct. 1; Emporia on Oct. 2; McPherson on Oct. 3; Manhattan on Oct. 4; Garden City on Oct 16; Colby on Oct. 17 and Beloit on Oct. 18.  

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