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School Officials: Newtown Shootings Don’t Fit State Profiles

Some Indiana school officials trained in disaster response say it may be impossible to prevent events like the ones in Newtown, Connecticut.

Martinsville West MIddle School

Photo: Noel Brennan

Parents wait to pick up their students from Martinsville West Middle School on March 25, 2011 -- the day a 15-year old student was shot on campus.

Indiana school officials say though the Hoosier State is the only one that requires school corporations to have a trained and certified school safety specialist, Friday’s shootings in Newtown, Connecticut don’t fit most training profiles.

The Indiana School Safety Specialist Academy in Indianapolis trains such personnel.  Academy Director David Woodward says the academy develops best practices for dealing with everything from bullying to profiling potential problem students.  And each school is required to implement such plans—and in the case of active shooters—lockdown drills.

“What we need is something useful, something practical and something that’s been developed with your local first responders,” Woodward says.

The academy also adapts and changes plans based on national incidents, like last Friday’s events.

Martinsville schools experienced a school shooting in March of 2011 and adjusted its security measures in response.  Director of Technology and Safety Greg Rollo says the school now has a tip line in place that allows anyone to voice their concerns about a particular student.  But Rollo says there will always be cases that are difficult to foresee especially when no threat exists from within a school.

“How do you deal with somebody that comes into your building, has no association with the school and just wants to harm people?  I think we’re going to have to learn how to address that now,” Rollo says.  “It doesn’t fit the profile, it doesn’t fit how we would handle that kind of situation.”

Rollo says his administration met Monday morning and discussed future security options.  Proposals on the table include putting security guards in each school and implementing mental health screening programs.

Kyle Clayton

Kyle Clayton is a WFIU news producer. He is currently studying journalism at Indiana University and comes to WFIU following an internship in the fall of 2011. After serving in the U.S. Army, he returned home to Indiana in 2008 to begin his education and pursue his interests in writing.

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