Six days after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida and a scare that locked down Ardmore High School, the Ardmore City Schools Board of Education discussed safety measures the district has already taken, and what might come next.
Superintendent Kim Holland broached the subject during the Tuesday board meeting, discussing active shooter response training called ALICE training. The name stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate, and teaches faculty and students how to react to an armed threat.
“Our (school resource officers) went through ALICE training last year,” Holland said. “It’s not the traditional ‘hide and wait in place,’ it’s a more aggressive way of dealing with an active shooter.”
Holland said while the school has implemented some ALICE training for teachers before, they’ve never run drills with students.
“We’re going to practice what to do if you have an active shooter or a person trying to hurt them,” Holland said.
Another measure, which will focus on students’ mental health, was already in the works before the Florida shooting. He said students initially asked if they could hold a conversation or vent session, following the suicide of a student from an area school earlier this year.
“I didn’t think that was necessarily healthy, so what we did instead is bring in some professionals to work with them on real problem solving,” Holland said.
Holland said the program will help students identify when their peers are struggling emotionally, how to recognize when they need help themselves and who to reach out to if they feel they could hurt themselves or others.
“It’s going to be coming up very soon,” Holland said. “I don’t know if that’s going to be at the end of February or the start of March.”
The school will also take stock of its existing security. Take Two Academy and ACS have already been looking for a new home for the academy for months, but Take Two’s location on the AHS campus presents logistical problems when it comes to responding to an armed threat.
“Sometimes they don’t hear the announcements and so forth, so we’ve really got to work on our coordination,” Holland said. “It really works better when it’s separate from the high school.”
Ardmore Police Department officers John Randolph and Ruben Garcia will give a presentation about ALICE training at the next school board meeting.
“We’ve done surveys and our kids have said they feel pretty safe here,” Holland said. “We don’t have some issues that other schools have, but we don’t want to take that for granted either.”