For parents worried that assaults such as last month’s Atlanta-area school shooting could happen at their own child’s school, a new report released today offers little comfort.
The National Report Card on Protecting Children in Disaster from Save the Children found that schools in 28 states had failed to meet the minimum government standards for evacuation procedures during a crisis, reuniting children with their families and basic school safety.
The school system in Marietta, Ga., however, is one that might get an A+.
Marietta High, which was built after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, has more than 100 high-def security cameras, two city police officers and halls designed straight with no corners where a gunman could hide.
Principal Leigh Colburn, who said she’d been in education for 27 years, said the “multifaceted approach to safety” gave her security.
“It does give me some peace of mind,” Colburn told ABC News. “We’re very serious about it. … There’s nothing that our parents want us to take more seriously than security.”
This year, all 11 schools in the district also installed at least one panic button in secret locations. The button is a direct line to an emergency call center across town.
Police Officer David Baldwin said the panic button was “really a break-glass-only-in-case-of-emergency type of situation.”
“It affords the school, any personnel that can’t actually get a phone call out in case of emergency, to hit this button,” Baldwin said. “It goes directly to the 911 center. … We want to take a proactive stance in the safety and security of our students and our teachers.”
Experts advised parents to ask questions at their children’s schools about security plans. They should ask whether the school holds drills and whether first responders will be provided lists of children’s and parents’ names.
“It’s a sign of the times,” Baldwin said. “It’s a reality of what today is, but it’s a step that we need to take to make sure that all precautions are taken in order to keep these kids and the faculty safe.”