Brown County Emergency Mgmt Busy… But Not with School Safety Plan Mandate

Brown County’s emergency management director is feeling swamped. Scott Meints told the county commission yesterday that he and his sole staffer, Patti Woods, are putting 50- to 60-hour weeks due to growing state and local agreements. Among the complications to his day, said Meints, is having to work with school districts on state-maandated emergency management plans:

He said a new law requiring school districts to write and maintain an emergency management plan will require assistance from his office. There are seven school districts in Brown County, he said [Elisa Sand, “Pay, Staff Concerns Emerge at Brown County Commission Meeting,” Aberdeen American News, 2015.04.08].

New law? I riffle through this year’s hopper and find Senate Bill 89, a bill which would have required accredited school districts to develop school safety plans and conduct lockdown drills. SB 89 sailed through the Senate, but then Rep. Lee Schoenbeck (R-5/Watertown) led an anti-mandate charge to kill that bill in the House on March 3. Wow—for a brief, shining moment, Janklovian nostalgia outgunned our Legislature’s crazed paranoia about school shootings. I’m glad it did: I’m still troubled by the idea of leading our kindergartners through exercises forcing them to visualize a criminal coming to their classroom door with a gun to kill them.

Brown County Emergency Management may have a lot on its plate. But as far as I can tell, no new law emerged from the 2015 Legislature to add school safety plans to that office’s agenda.

4 Responses to Brown County Emergency Mgmt Busy… But Not with School Safety Plan Mandate

  1. Lee Schoenbeck

    Cory, I’m really curious how the county didn’t know we killed the bill?? Did an enquiring mind enquire?

  2. I haven’t checked with the county, Lee. There’s not some other requirement for school safety plans predating this session, is there?

  3. PlanningStudent

    I’m 30, so you do the math, but growing up and attending St. Joes in Pierre we practiced active shooter drills starting in kindergarten. My classmates and I didn’t have our young minds warped by the experience. It is what it is, you practice, nuclear bomb / earth quake, fire, tornado, and active shooter.

    Our active shooter drills were called John Lock drills. The principal would ask that John Lock report to the principals office over the intercom. That alerted students that a dangerous person was on campus. We would react by locking classroom doors, pulling shades and lining up against the same wall as the door. Idea being shooter looks through window in door and sees no one and keeps moving.

    Just like all other drills we knew it was a drill, we were always told earlier in the week, usually part of some type of national awareness and / or preparedness campaign.

    I had no idea our practicing of John Lock drills was unique and it blows my mind that others then, or now don’t practice a similar drill.

  4. Those active shooter drills you did seem to have come before the recent surge.

    I wonder… what differences are there between drilling for fires, tornados, and shooters? With fire drills, we need to know whether we really can move X-number of kids through certain doors at certain times to certain places. With tornado drills, we need to make sure we can fit all the kids in the building in the designated hallways. With shooter drills, well, we’re all just going to hunker down and hide where we are, where we already know we fit.

    I guess we just need to design schools with no glass, with classrooms as half-buried brick caves and six-inch-thick soundproof safe doors on time locks.