Calcasieu Parish Superintendent Wayne Savoy. (American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Thursday, January 17, 2013 6:45 PM
Familiarizing first responders with the layout of Calcasieu Parish schools is one way to make students and faculty safer in the event of a crisis, Calcasieu School Superintendent Wayne Savoy told a House committee Thursday.
“What we are trying to do as a system … is to create as many barriers as we can to allow first responders to get there and do the kinds of things they have been trained to do,” Savoy said. “We are trying to get first responders to go into every one of our ... schools so that they can have a frame of reference of exactly what to look for.”
Savoy, along with other school superintendents, addressed the House Committee on Homeland Security at a meeting to review and improve upon existing school crisis management plans. The meeting was held in response to the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. that claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults at the school.
In addition to helping emergency responders, Savoy said that all six municipalities in the parish “will have floor plans of all of our schools.”
“A school safety plan that has been circulated, discussed and trained for in advance will substantially reduce the chances of staff failing to respond appropriately to a trauma-related emergency,” he said.
Savoy said communication with law enforcement is “the key to any really good and competent and well-organized crisis management plan.”
“We all have to work together to protect the number one commodity that we are working with everyday, and that’s our children,” he said.
Savoy said he believes that schools are “safer than they ever were before” because of the measures put in place to respond to emergency situations.
“It’s a different time,” he said. “We have to be aware of (things like) lockdown, shelter in place, extreme weather and medical emergencies. The more we can train our staff, we can provide a kind of environment that everybody in this state wants.”
Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington, the committee chairman, said he is curious to see what changes will be put in place by school officials. He said a law enforcement agency, including parish sheriff’s offices, should certify a crisis response plan for schools, and that those plans should be practiced regularly.
“In our time in society, schools have to actively participate in a plan to deal with situations like this,” he said. “But I don’t know if anyone has the cure-all for preventing this in our schools.”
Schroder said his biggest concern is seeing any “government regulation” in how the plans are carried out.
“The schools are up to their eyeballs in government paperwork,” he said.
Schroder said that school officials could also start collecting data on bullying and mental health issues to further protect students and faculty.