Decatur schools to explore updating safety procedures

Decatur’s school board is planning an in-depth discussion on updating the district’s safety procedures during its next meeting, 6:30 p.m. March 20 at City Schools Decatur’s central office, 125 Electric Avenue.

One reason is that CSD hasn’t done a safety audit since 2013. But primarily the dialogue stems from the Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 students and faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida.

“We have to make sure,” Superintendent David Dude said, “that we balance security measures with our educational objectives. We’ve got to decide if we want to train the staff, or even do weapons checks. I know one thing, once you start checking for weapons you’ve changed the climate of a building.”

Currently CSD has fire drills, tornado drills and a general lockdown drill, but not an active shooter drill. Dude said that police conducted an active shooter drill for staff only when he was chief operating officer with the Iowa City Community School District. This was shortly after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in December 2012.

“There were some good things in that training,” he said, “but it was also very traumatic. I don’t think we’ve arrived at that point here. We still need to find where our comfort zone is.”