In East Metro, District 197 Schools Least Compliant with Lockdown Laws, Says PiPress Study

The Pioneer Press surveyed about 100 schools in six east metro districts and found District 197's schools the least compliant with laws mandating lockdown drills in 2011-12.

West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan had more schools that did not complete the five annual lockdown drills required by state law than any other district in the east metro, according to a Pioneer Press survey.

District records showed that  Mendota and Somerset elementary schools only performed  one or two drills during the 2011-12 school year, the paper reported.

Mendota Heights Police Chief Michael Aschenbrener said his department helped develop a comprehensive safety plan for the school district.

"I'm shocked and amazed no one is holding them accountable to the statute," Aschenbrener told the Pioneer Press.

Mark Fortman, the district's director of operations, attributed some of the missing drills to a "reporting error" and said he would welcome more state oversight if it came with a better way of reporting what preparedness efforts the district is making.

"I'm very surprised these haven't been done," he told the Pioneer Press. "We have been very proactive at emphasizing the safety of students."

Southwest of District 197, the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan school district was the most compliant, according to the Pioneer Press survey.

The Pioneer Press has more on the lockdown drill and their survey:

In cases where schools comply with the law, the drills often are done in predictable ways -- performed at the same time of the school day or school year and overseen by the same administrator.

And it's hard to get a picture of compliance statewide because there is no required oversight of the lockdown drills.

The Minnesota Department of Education requires districts to report incidents of violence, but school leaders do not have to provide the details of prevention efforts such as drills or crisis plans.

Crisis plans are schools' first line of defense, says Ronald Stephens, executive director of the National School Safety Center. They must be practiced so staff members know how to react during an emergency.

"In times of crisis, nobody reaches for 'the plan.' You have to know it," Stephens said. "That's why we have these drills."


Becky Anderson February 21, 2013 at 04:02 PM
I am sure that, with this knowledge, the District will take swift corrective action. I know of no one in the District that takes student safety lightly.


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