BISD addresses safety practices in wake of Parkland, Florida shooting
The shooting that took the lives of 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has been on the minds of many. Since the rampage, Burleson ISD has been taking a hard look at their security practices and procedures to keep kids safe.
“Our goal in Burleson ISD is to continuously evaluate, monitor and make changes to procedures as recommended by the experts, which are our first responders,” Mikala Hill, communications director of BISD, said. “We meet frequently with members of our safety and security team which includes Burleson Police Department, the Burleson Fire Department, paramedics, the sheriff’s department and judges, among others.”
Since the shooting in Florida, BISD has been practicing lockdowns and drills more frequently and even had first responders on-site last week to watch the drills and provide feedback.
“Our first responders provided a lot of positive feedback on what they saw last week, and we always want to make our practice drills better through continuous improvement - we want to do it faster, quieter, whatever it takes to make them perfect,” Hill said.
Steve Logan, chief technology officer and district safety and security coordinator, is in charge of coordinating safety and security for the district with the guidance and leadership of first responders. As chair of the safety and security committee, Logan works with principals to make sure they have the maximum support available regarding student safety. He said that the district is constantly evaluating systems in place, and listening to recommendations given by the school district’s partners of first responders. He said he meets regularly with officers from the Burleson Police Department to evaluate how the district can keep students safer.
“We met with first responders from different fields several times last week, and are meeting with BPD again this week,” Logan said. “We will also attend a school safety symposium hosted by the FBI in Dallas next week. School safety is a continuous and ongoing process. Our district understands that and wants to learn as much as possible to ensure the safety of our students.”
Moreover, Hill said that keeping an open line of communication with first responders, principals, students and teachers is key to keeping everyone safe. Students can talk to a teacher or administrator openly about concerns and see school guidance counselors if they have any anxiety about the Parkland shooting.
Though the district may not openly talk about all safety procedures to protect sensitive information, they do have a close working relationship with law enforcement and evaluate the needs of security on all BISD campuses on a daily basis, Logan said.
“Burleson ISD has a close working relationship with law enforcement officials and performs multiple district-conducted drills on a regular basis. Early this year, we conducted a safety audit with evaluations from the BPD of all BISD campuses to evaluate the systems we have in place,” Logan continued. “This feedback, along with our of self-evaluations, allows us to continuously improve our safety efforts.”
“We have a multitude of things that we are doing,” said Logan. “We completed a safety and security audit throughout the district and reported the findings to the Texas State Safety Center as well as the board of trustees in September and had a positive finding.”
However, some parents feel that BISD could do even more.
Cori (who asked that her last name be withheld) has two children in BISD on two different campuses and said security needs to be even tighter.
“I don’t feel like my kids are safe,” Cori said. “The reason I say that is when I go to my daughter’s middle school, you can walk right in to the office. There is no buzzing in, no camera. To me, I think that once the kids are in the school, the doors should all be locked and there should be a security camera at the front door with a buzzer.”
Cori’s daughter has been having anxiety about the Parkland shooting and has been discussing the option of homeschooling. Her son, on the other hand, doesn’t seem worried at all.
“My son, nothing scares him,” she said. “He doesn’t feel like it’s going to happen here, but those kids in Florida didn’t think it would happen there either. No one at Columbine thought it would happen there either. I keep preaching that to them.”
Cori has been telling her children to be more watchful of other students and thinks all kids should look out for their classmates in regards to sudden, strange behavior.
“You can’t just sit at the lunch table and chit-chat now,” Cori said. “When I was in school, you didn’t have to worry about this. But now you do. They can’t be children anymore.”
Chief of Police Billy Cordell said while the shooting was tragic, like many police departments, BPD changed tactics after the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School. Their highest priority when responding to an active shooter situation is to neutralize the threat.
“We are going to reposed as quickly as possible with the appropriate number of officers to go in and respond to the threat,” Cordell said. “We have crossed trained with the fire department and EMTs to get ambulance crews in there as quickly as we can, even if it is a hot zone, to start treating those that are injured. It’s a multi-prong approach. Because we are trying to stop the killing, that is our priority. To stop the dying is our next priority to get in there and treating those as quickly as we can, stablize them quickly and transport them quickly to area hospitals.”
Additionally, BISD employs four school resource officers that are uniformed BPD officers. They are assigned to all BISD secondary schools, with others rotating throughout the elementary schools.
“A school resource officer works to protect the students,” Cordell said. “There were some rumors going around on Facebook that they weren’t real police officers, that they were just there for guidance and that simply isn’t true. Their primary role is to provide a level of safety and respond to threats to students.”
Cordell said most importantly in the wake of another school shooting, kids need to speak up when they suspect a threat against the school or an individual.
“Students know what is going on in a school and the intelligence that we can gain from them is important for us to try and prevent something from happening,” he said. “Someone may be making comments about a school shooting — and I’ll tell you right now, students do not need to be making off-color comments about a school shooting. We are going to take that extremely seriously and you will most likely find yourself in jail.”