“(It’s) sad, but if someone wants to shoot their way in and start firing off shots they could. This could happen anywhere and unfortunately has,” said Kim Robertson, principal of Elizabeth Cashwell Elementary School on Legion Road.
She was responding to a question about how her school would react to an active shooter on campus. Robertson said all aspects of her building layout and student/staff contact information is cataloged in a computer.
Principals and the police can access that information at any time. Thirteen real-time cameras are installed at Elizabeth Cashwell School and are monitored at the safety office.
“We have to have a plan for such an occasion, and we share it with the safety office and staff,” Robertson said. Her school has a crisis response team equipped with walkie talkies. “Almost daily I have an issue that requires a response, but nothing like a serious threat of danger,” she said.
“In the event of an active shooter, principals follow our crisis management procedures, which include our lockdown procedures,” added Associate Superintendent Tim Kinlaw. Policy requiring sheltering in place should such an instance occur is set by the Cumberland County Board of Education.
State law doesn’t address active shooter scenarios. There is a statute that deals with the importance of fire drills: “It shall be the duty of the principal to conduct a fire drill during the first week after the opening of school and thereafter at least one fire drill each school month, in each building in his charge, where children are assembled.
“Fire drills shall include all pupils and school employees, and the use of various ways of egress to simulate evacuation of said buildings under various conditions, and such other regulations as shall be prescribed for fire safety by the Commissioner of Insurance, the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education. A copy of such regulations shall be kept posted on the bulletin board in each building.”
“Monthly fire drills are required with a report sent to the Safety Office each month,” Robertson confirmed. “Our principals follow Board policy regarding fire drills. We have not received any reports from the County or City Fire Marshals stating that fire drills have not been conducted according to state fire code requirements,” added Kinlaw.
“Tornado drills are also required when notification comes that we are to do one,” said Robertson. During a tornado outbreak across the south in April 2011, Benjamin Martin Elementary School at 430 N. Reilly Road, in Fayetteville, was so badly damaged that classes couldn’t be held there for the rest of the school year. Fortunately, the tornado touched down on a Saturday.
Robertson said local principals are reminded near the end of a school month if drills haven’t been performed and documented. “The fire marshal conducts random checks to see school reports annually,” she added.
Photo: Kim Robertson, principal of Elizabeth Cashwell Elementary School