Three DISD Schools Skipped Lockdown Drills After District Pledged to Do Better - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
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Three DISD Schools Skipped Lockdown Drills After District Pledged to Do Better

DISD records show one school held no lockdown drills for 1.5 years

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    NEWSLETTERS

    (Published Monday, March 21, 2016)

    After an NBC 5 Investigation found DFW-area school districts skipping security drills, several districts pledged to do better.

    Six months later, records show three districts examined in the previous NBC 5 report are doing a better job of completing drills. However, some schools still failed to conduct lock down drills that are either required by their own district policies or recommended by the state.

    Safety experts said kids need to practice for emergencies, including what to do and where to go if an armed person entered their school.

    The Dallas Independent School District (DISD) requires all schools practice a lock down drill each semester. But, district records obtained by NBC 5 Investigates show Barbara Manns Education Center did not hold a single lock down drill for a year and a half.

    Records show none in the 2014-15 school year, and none in the first semester of the 2015-2016 school year either.

    DISD spokesman Andre Riley said, "It is unacceptable for that to happen at any of our schools, especially over that time period. It's not something we ever want to see."

    The principal at Barbara Manns declined to speak with NBC 5 Investigates, but the school did conduct a lock down drill this semester when school started up again after the winter break.

    Manns is not the only DISD school that has skipped drills in the past. In fact, it’s one of many that have been on NBC 5 Investigates' radar for more than three years.

    In 2013, NBC 5 Investigates discovered about 75 DISD schools did not record security drills or did not perform them.

    At the time, DISD Police Chief Craig Miller said NBC 5 Investigates' findings would help the district improve.

    "Now I feel a lot better after what you guys had come forward and told us. That helped us look at our record keeping and determine those that are in compliance and those that are not,” said Miller, in a 2013 interview.

    In 2015, NBC 5 Investigates filed another records request and found another 70 schools with no records to show whether or not drills were performed.

    Again, the district promised action.

    “It's not good enough to say we think we did it. We need to put pen to paper and have our facts,” said Riley last fall.

    In March 2016, the numbers have improved. New records show only three DISD schools with no lock down drills recorded in the fall semester, Barbara Manns, Robert E. Lee Elementary and Birdie Alexander Elementary schools.

    DISD said Robert E. Lee School has now scheduled a lock down drill for this week and that Birdie Alexander School ultimately completed a lock down drill in January.

    DISD officials said anything less than 100 percent compliance from schools is unacceptable and the district’s top new school leadership chief promises to make it happen to reassure parents.

    “They're not going to be reassured until it's done because we have been talking about it a lot,” said, Stephanie Elizade, DISD chief of school leadership.

    Elizade said principals will face disciplinary measures if they skip drills this year but she would not say exactly what kind of discipline. She also declined to comment on whether that principal at Barbara Manns school had been disciplined because the district does not want to comment on personnel matters.

    In an interview, Elizade told NBC 5 Investigates there will not be any gaps in security drill records going forward.

    At the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District all gaps in drill records have been eliminated.

    “They’ve gotten the stuff done as expected. They rose the challenge,” said Robert Ball, HEB’s coordinator of educational support services.

    Ball joined the district last year. He created a calendar system for drills and personally supervised them. Today he believes students are safer.

    “I really feel like they are more prepared -- and knowing every drill has been done in the district at the time it was supposed to, really prepares I think our kids to be safe whatever comes their way,” said Ball.

    Garland ISD has also stepped up practicing drills since NBC 5 Investigates last examined district records. However, Garland ISD does not follow state guidelines at some schools.

    Many Garland ISD schools are only practicing lock downs once a year. The Texas School Safety Center recommends schools hold lock down drills each semester, or twice a year. But there’s no penalty for schools that don’t comply with those recommendations.

    When asked if once a year is enough, Garland ISD Security Director Pat Lamb said that was an ongoing conversation and that Garland plans to discuss the possibility of adding more drills to later this year. In the meantime, Garland ISD said all teachers have practiced lock down drills even if some student’s haven’t yet this year.

    “I am confident every staff member has been trained. I'm confident in our ability to respond when seconds count,” said Lamb.

    Seconds that can put students in life and death situations.

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