Friday, July 12, 2013
New guidelines from the Obama administration for planning for emergencies at schools following the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., touch on everything from school design and storm shelters to planning emergency drills and balancing privacy and safety.
But one facet of the plan, released June 18, is on active-shooting situations, and some of the recommendations in those scenarios make school safety experts nervous—namely, a suggestion that school employees try to fight an intruder when given no other choice.
While the White House document says this should be done as a last resort, that message is easily lost, said Michael Dorn, the executive director of the Atlanta-based Safe Havens International, which advises schools on safety and emergency planning. In his experience, when school employees are given the idea that in rare circumstances, fighting or disarming a shooter is an option, it's the only thing that comes to mind for far less serious scenarios. In drills, school employees have become so focused on fighting a shooter they have forgotten to take the basic step of locking their classroom doors.