Gun Laws & Legislation

Parkland Teacher: School Ignored Suggestions After 2017 Threat Assessment Of Campus

REUTERS/Angel Valentin

Kerry Picket Political Reporter
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A Marjory Stoneman Douglas teacher says a threat assessment was performed at the high school just a few months before the deadly massacre, but school officials failed to heed the recommendations that followed.

“There is blood on many people’s hands through this whole thing–definitely on the principal’s hand, but Sheriff Israel definitely has blood on his hands because the B.S.O., not only the school resource officer, but no BSO deputies ever went in even while shots were being fired inside of the twelve hundred building. But the superintendent and the school board also because of their policies,” the faculty member said on the condition of anonymity during an interview that aired on NRATV Monday night on Dana Loesch’s “Relentless” program.  

According to the faculty member, the threat assessment occurred in December 2017 and arranged by what is known at school as the safety committee, which includes an assistant principal, the head of security at Stoneman Douglas, and two Stoneman Douglas teachers. An inquiry was sent Monday morning and afternoon to members of the Broward County School Board and principal of Stoneman Douglas about the 2017 threat assessment for a response.

“This threat assessment was done by a retired Secret Service agent and it was known that he was going to do this assessment by the Safety Committee but that no one else at Stoneman Douglas would be aware of it including administration except for that one administrator on the committee,” the staffer said.

The teacher continued, “The Secret Service agent came in. He parked in the front of the school for 20 minutes. He was never approached by anyone. He gained entry to the campus never being stopped by anyone at any time and put post-its on 21 random people.”

Each person the agent placed a post-it note on represented a casualty done by a shooter if the perpetrator gained access to the campus.  The agent ran out of post-its after using 21 notes and could have tagged 4 more people thereafter, the staffer said.

A few recommendations were made thereafter. First, Parkland is an affluent area that fit a similar profile to that of Columbine Colorado, where the first mass shooting occurred on a high school campus in 1999.

“The number one thing he said is we needed to reinforce the various entrances to the school. Make sure the gates are locked at all times and that anyone trying to get onto campus should be checked in by someone. Don’t just leave open gates,” the faculty member said.

“Secondly regarding fire alarms as it is at Stoneman Douglas when a fire alarm goes off everyone is told to exit the building immediately and the former Secret Service agent said No. Why go from a known which is a secure classroom environment to an unknown when you’re evacuating you are far along you going into an unknown situation.”

The former agent suggested that when a fire alarm goes off, instead of evacuating everyone immediately, an individual should be sent to the location of the fire alarms origination to investigate what’s going on prior to any evacuation.

“So that is a recommendation that was made and during this mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas the fire alarm went off,  kids evacuated and staff immediately and people were shot in the hall by the shooter. So, if that one recommendation were implemented, lives would have been saved and it wasn’t,” said the faculty source.

The agent also urged that anyone on campus should be able to call a “code red lockdown.”

“The majority of campus had no idea that there was an active shooter at Stoneman Douglas on February 14th. And the main people that did lockdown heard shots being fired. The rest of the campus didn’t know. They heard the fire alarm go off,” said the staffer. “The kids evacuated out of the building. One of the assistant principals got on the P.A. and said, ‘evacuate the building evacuate the building.’”

“So probably 1500 to 2000 kids were evacuating while an active shooter was shooting in the 1200 building and there were kids running around outside,” said the faculty member noting that no one knew this was happening except for the people in the twelve hundred buildings and the people closest to it.

The agent also said clearer chain of command needed to be established. The staffer stated the reason is that at Stoneman Douglas is that top school official seems to be off campus very often leading to confusion at times when it comes to decision making.

“The principal is not on campus quite a bit and people don’t know whether he’s in charge or the assistant principal who’s second in command is in charge because we don’t know who’s there on any given day. [The agent] recommended that the chain of command be a lot more evident to everyone who works there. So, it’s staff members.”

Finally, the school website provided too much information to someone who may want to cause harm at the school, particularly the map of the campus, bell schedule, and faculty photos.

“He said this makes it too easy for someone to get from place to place in the school. If there was someone that was disgruntled of a certain member of the staff it would be too easy for them to target someone because pictures are all over the website.”

Following the threat assessment’s completion, the agent met with the committee again and reviewed his recommendations. One of the people at the meeting, Aaron Feis–one of the people that lost their lives during the shooting–stated at the meeting,  “We’ve been asking for these changes to be made for years.”

 “So, the recommendations were presented by the Committee to the principal. And from December 2017 to February 14th, most of these recommendations were not heeded. So, it really did not go any further.”

“We did have a staff meeting on January 12th which was a teacher planning day. And a Mr. Butler from the district came in to educate us on school security and school safety.”

However, a couple of teachers on the safety committee had created a system of set color-coded flip charts with different types of emergency situations that included code yellow, code red, code brown. Each color showed faculty what they should have their students do in the event of each of these various situations.

“On January 12th, we went over that and we were told within the next two days, because we only see our students every other day, being on the block schedule that we were to go over with our students each of these scenarios, and what we would do in each of these scenarios we were also placed in zones.”

Stoneman Douglas faculty went over the emergency scenarios with their students the following two days after January 12th. These explanations included what they would do in their classrooms if there were an active shooter where they should hide where they should go in the room, the teacher said.

The faculty member explained, “So that is one good thing that was done and I’m sure lives were saved because teachers did that with their students after January 12th. But the sticking point is this no one called code red over the P.A. system at school on that day. The only thing we heard was a fire alarm and then the asst. principal get on the loudspeaker saying evacuate the building which teachers and students did.”

“Teachers went to their assigned evacuation zones that they had been trained to go to.  Teachers were in the middle of taking attendance when those teachers that were outside heard shots fired, and then they started evacuating to the further away areas getting further and further away from the facility, but never on the P.A. was a code red active shooter ever called.”

The Stoneman Douglas High School staff member lamented,  “So the bottom line is, “It’s great that the students of Stoneman Douglas and the community are rallying behind preventing this kind of thing from ever happening again. But there were multiple failures that happened that led to lives being lost. And it doesn’t seem like anyone is focusing on why it happened.”

Kerry Picket is a correspondent for NRATV and host on SiriusXM Patriot 125

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