By: Robyn Gee
School districts all over the country took a hard look at their school safety plans this week in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday. The shooting left 20 students and six adults dead.
Steve Satterly is the Director of Transportation and School Safety for Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County in East Central Indiana. He worked with the superintendent of his district to get a letter out to parents assuring them that their schools are safe.
Monday morning, Satterly met with the principals in the district and they agreed to put a new protocol in place. From now on, teachers will always lock their classroom doors when they’re teaching. This is to “buy time” in case of an intruder. “We can’t prevent somebody with a gun from shooting their way into a school, but if we can slow them down enough, we can buy time for the good guys to take out the bad guys,” he said.
The troubling thing about the Sandy Hook shooting, said Satterly, is that they did everything right. They had an access control system and they had practiced their lockdown procedures.
His own school district recently received a grant from the federal government to become more prepared for emergencies. The grant focused on training teachers and staff to react better to stressful situations, because they were failing to implement emergency plans when the school ran drills.
“I played the mad bomber. I would call in yelling, screaming, cussing up a storm, telling them there was a bomb in the school and I was going to set it off,” said Satterly. “We found what happened was, when these people were subjected to my yelling and screaming, they shut down.… We had great plans in place but without their ability to respond well to that stress, the plans were useless,” he said.
Satterly explained that the incident at Columbine inspired schools around the country to adopt lockdown procedures. “Until Columbine, it wasn’t seen as necessary, so it wasn’t practiced... Evil walked into that school, then evil can walk into this school,” he said.
If Satterly could do one thing to make schools safer, he would put a school resource officer on every campus. “That’s a sworn law enforcement officer. They’re armed but they’re not just police, they serve as a mentor and a guide... When the wolf comes into the door, they’re the first person to stand guard against it,” he said.
Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.
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