STOW: In the wake of last month’s fatal shootings at Chardon High School, the Stow-Munroe Falls school district plans to train its employees on what to do if an armed intruder comes into one of its buildings.
“We are all mindful of the fact that things like that can happen in any community, and then it does,” Stow Mayor Sara Drew said. “It really makes you remember that you need to be prepared.”
Teachers will undergo training in the ALICE program this week. According to the group Response Options, its program — Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate — is designed to enhance current lockdown procedures used in schools.
“You are not just locking the door, cowering down and turning off the lights,” Drew said. “They are implementing some other enhanced measures for teachers.”
School Superintendent Russell Jones said this training will bring “a whole different philosophy of how to deal with intruders and emergencies in the building.
“The whole high school staff did have an overview of the program during our November in-service day. I was able to see a good portion of that. After seeing it, we are excited to bring that training to our entire district,” Jones said.
Lt. Joseph A. Hendry Jr. of the Kent State police department conducts training in school safety using the ALICE program, which he described as “unique because it addresses the moment you become aware of an active shooter and gives you options on how to react based on your circumstance.”
Hendry recalled speaking with a parent who went through ALICE training at Kent State. He said the parent went home and shared with her daughter what she had learned. Her daughter then found herself in the cafeteria at Chardon when the shooting started.
When the woman’s daughter saw the initial shooting and observed students getting under cafeteria tables, she knew how important it was for everyone to evacuate the room, Hendry said. The girl grabbed one of her friends and a stranger and yelled: “My mom said, ‘Don’t hide under tables. You are an easy target. Run!’ ”
Several students took that advice, he said.
“If they had stayed under those tables and the gunman reloads, you could have easily had triple the amount of casualties,” Hendry said.
Under lockdown procedures used in many schools, students and teachers lock the door, cover the window, shut off the lights and hide.
Hendry said that lockdown is a concept that came out of prisons to secure facilities. It might have a place in schools when dealing with a drug or security sweep, but all it does if there is a shooter “is make sure the targets — the kids — are all bunched up and quiet in the kill zone,” Hendry said.
ALICE would train everyone to respond more appropriately, he said.
“We don’t just train the teachers in a school,” Hendry said. “We train everyone. The concepts are portable to anywhere.
“The students aren’t always in classrooms. They are in the halls, cafeterias, buses and outside the building during the days. They may be in a position to have to make a decision all by themselves. That is why you train everyone to respond.”
Hendry said police officers who work with schools agree that evacuation is the best response. Leaving the place that is posing a threat is generally the best option.
“I have spoken with hundreds of police officers,” Hendry said. “I ask them if they talk to their kids about active shooters and I have them raise their hands. Almost all do.
“I ask them to keep their hands up if they tell their kids to stay in the school. Every hand goes down.”
Training in the Stow- Munroe Falls schools will take place Wednesday through Friday. Lt. Chad Cunningham of the University of Akron Police Department will be the facilitator.
More information about the ALICE program and Response Options is available at www.roseminars.com.
Heather Beyer can be reached at HMBeyer@aol.com.