Broward County (Fla.) board bolsters school security policies

Feb. 22, 2019
A year after the shooting attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, new board policies address some of the failures that played a part in the February 2018 tragedy.

A year after a shooting attack that killed 17 at one of its high schools, the Broward County (Fla.) School Board has enacted policies to help prevent the same types of failures that contributed to the tragedy.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that the school board has voted to adopt policies that identify when school staff must call for a Code Red lockdown, as well requiring classrooms to be equipped with places for students to hide from an active shooter.

The board's vote came at the first meeting since Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced plans to seek a grand jury to review how well Broward schools have handled security issues. 

For much of the past year, family members of people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14, 2018, as well as a commission investigating the tragedy, have criticized the school district for taking a long time to enact key safety improvements.

The policy directs the district’s new chief of safety, security and emergency preparedness to identify procedures for identifying the places for "hard corners"— spaces where students could seek shelter from an active shooter.

Each classroom will have a clearly marked and designated safe zone -- away from doors and windows -- where students can gather during emergencies, a district news release says.

Principals would work with their school resource officers or other safety experts to determine where the corners would be in each classroom. The policy also requires classroom doors to be locked at all times.

The second policy gives any staff member at a school the authority — and the responsibility — to call for a Code Red if he or she senses danger. This procedure signals an immediate danger and requires students to hide behind locked doors

The Stoneman Douglas gunman was halfway through his six-minute shooting attack before anyone issued a “Code Red.” As a result, some students were caught in hallways and killed.

Although the commission found that no one was specifically told not to issue the alert, there was confusion about whose job that was.

Under the new policy, any staff member must call a Code Red “should they see, hear, or smell anything that may immediately impact the safety and security of any staff, students, or visitors on campus.”

They would not be disciplined if the potential threat turns out to be a false alarm.

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