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In Parkland, New Safety Measures Pitched in Response to School Shooting

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Thumbnail image for School-shooting-Marjory-Douglas-Stoneman-crime-tape-600.jpgA local task force unveiled 90 pages of safety recommendations for Broward County, Fla., schools Monday in response to the Feb. 14 school shooting in the district's Stoneman Douglas High School. 

That task force, assembled by the Broward County League of Cities, included local leaders, teachers, and parents of two of the 17 people killed in the shooting. The recommendations come as a state commission is also exploring the district's response to the shooting to recommend changes.

Among the local task force's recommendations:

  • Installing metal detectors in all of the county's schools
  • Limiting entrance points to schools
  • Reviewing site-level safety plans and sharing them with outside law enforcement
  • Updating hardware to allow classroom doors to lock automatically, and
  • Updating security protocols for campus arrival and dismissal times

The task force also called for more counselors and student support staff and student safety drills within the first two weeks of the school year.

The local recommendations are divided into immediate, near term, and longer term categories. It also urged further discussions about its ideas.

"These consensus recommendations and the complex issues surrounding some of the school and community public safety issues demand greater dialogue," the report says. "In fact, this Initial Report and Recommendation could not be, in the time allotted, the end point of the community discussions. In many ways, even with two months of intense meetings and gathering information, the issuance of this Initial Report and Recommendation is the beginning point for honest and meaningful conversations which must occur and partnerships which must be created or reinforced if we are to protect our schools, students, teachers, staff, families and community."

The report comes a few days after the Broward County district updated parents on its safety plans. Those plans include:

  • Contracting with an independent firm to review district safety plans and procedures
  • Providing at least one school resource officer or safety officer for each school by the new school year, a requirement created by a new Florida law
  • Reinforcing existing safety rules regularly. "This includes requiring students and staff to wear identification badges while on campus at all times and visitors to wear a school or District form of identification while on campus; locking classroom doors at all times; locking and securing exterior doors and gates throughout the day; being vigilant in monitoring the campus throughout the day; and conducting emergency preparedness training for faculty, staff and students on a regular basis."
  • Working to develop new "active assailant training" for schools
  • Updating surveillance cameras
  • Providing expanded mental health services through the next school year
  • Reviewing student discipline policies and improving implementation. "As an immediate first step, school leaders and administrators have been directed to ensure that all discipline incidents are properly reported," the letter to parents says. "Finally, school audits will now include a review of compliance with our student code of conduct and discipline policies."

While students and victims' families have taken positions on both sides of a national gun debate that followed the shooting, most are united in calling for changes to school policies and practices as a result. There were some overlaps between the task force's recommendations and the district's plans, including plans to publicize methods for students to report safety concerns to adults.

Their work comes as U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos chairs a White House task force to explore school safety issues on a national level following the shooting in Parkland and more recently, the shooting at Sante Fe High School in Texas that killed 10 people. That task force will hold public hearings on the issue this week.

Photo: Crime scene tape runs outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., a few days after a Febuary shooting there that left 17 people dead. --Gerald Herbert/AP

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