Lessons Learned and Changes We Made After an Active Shooter Incident
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This webinar of the Raptor School Safety Series is entitled Lessons Learned and Changes We Made After an Active Shooting.
In 2016, under Dr. Avery’s leadership, Townville Elementary School was the victim of a fatal school shooting. As a second year superintendent, Dr. Avery had to respond to a whole magnitude of changes from immediate response all the way through to recovery. So in this Webinar, Dr. Avery very candidly explained what transpired and what she’s now doing differently of the result.
Following Dr. Avery presentations, We will hear briefly from Jim Vesterman, CEO of Raptor, who will provide us with a quick overview of the Raptor solutions available to support your school safety initiatives, and then we’ll move into the live Q&A. So as you have questions, feel free to enter them into the question box at any time. Also, you will receive a copy of the recording of this webinar in your email following the Webinar in case you’d like to refer back to it.
I’m thrilled to now introduce our guest speaker, Dr. Joanne Avery, superintendent of Anderson School District in Pendleton, South Carolina. For the past 29 years, she has served as a teacher and it’s held numerous administrative roles in South Carolina public education. Dr. Avery earned her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Clemson University. And on the state level, she has co-chaired the National Commission on Teaching and American Future Coalition, which designed and opened two schools of the future. Dr. Avery. Thank you so much for joining us.
Thank you Eileen and Raptor Technologies for the invitation to be here today and to share our story.
Our experience on September 28th was horrific and life changing and I have no doubt that the principal and the staff, their swift reaction saved lives. Over the past 21 months, we’ve learned a lot about safety and security the hard way and while my hope is that not one more school, school, district, or community will ever have to experience a school shooting, the reality is until needed changes are called for and supported, school leaders must enact measures that protect human lives from gun violence in our school.
Since Columbine, there have been 236 school shootings and 296 lives lost in American K12 schools and higher institutions. And even more unimaginable, is the growing frequency and magnitude of these preventable attacks on our institutions of learning. Since January, there had been 30 shootings alone and 40 lives lost. Until those changes happen, schools really need to get serious about preparing for a school shooting just as they do for a school fire. When you look at it statistically, schools are 236 times more likely to have a school shooting then a school fire with fatalities of which the last recorded school with fatalities was in 1958.
So let’s start with an understanding of what happened on September 28th at Townville Elementary School. It was a typical day. The principal was conducting teacher evaluation. School was underway and our first graders were celebrating a birthday party.
Dr. Avery, I’m so sorry to interrupt you. We’re just seeing that the title screen right now. I’m not sure if why it’s not working. There we go. Okay, perfect. Thank you.
Is that good?
All right, so this is just an overview of Townville Elementary School. This is the front entrance into the school. The car loop, students get dropped off here.
And so on this particular day around 1:41, a truck entered on this road here. 14-year-old had killed his father, stole the truck, drove down this road, entered in front of the school, and the custodian had just opened the gates for the buses to be able to exit at dismissal. The truck drove down the entryway here and circled around the back of the school.
The truck entered at 1:41:29. The first shots were at 1:41:40. The entire shooting was over. As you can see here, this is the back of the school. The truck came around, was still in drive. The truck slammed into the playground stance. The shooter jumped out and started shooting towards the doors where the first grade class was exiting to join first graders. They were already on the playground for a birthday party.
As I mentioned, the first shots were fired within 11 seconds of the truck entering on campus and the entire gunshot occurred within 23 seconds. As I mentioned, there were first graders on the playground already, under the supervision of the substitute, which I will talk about in a few minutes. The shooter turned the gun on the playground, but thankfully the gun jammed.
Two volunteer firefighters were the first to arrive on scene, but it took 12 minutes for first responders to get there. The school went immediately into lockdown. The perpetrator was locked out of the building based on the fast reaction of our staff to actually close down and lock down the building. Four victims were wounded, one student later died from a level one trauma injury. We had employees and students remain in lockdown for about 60 minutes or more. And parents were immediately onsite, long before law enforcement ever got there to address the situation.
So when you look at the history of active shooters, which I think is so important, you can learn a lot about the tendencies and the trends. Active shooters are studying and learning from past events and clearly in our situation, our 14 year old had been studying on the dark web to learn about how to have a bigger shooting with more casualties. They want their events to be deadlier. They know that they’re on the clock and they also know that somebody’s going to stop them. So they try to get as much damage done as quickly as they can.
In a review of 160 active shooter events, they found that 69% of the incidents ended in five minutes or less, 23% of the incidents ended in three minutes or less, and 67% of incidents were over before the first police arrived. And clearly in our situation, and why I stressed that so much is it happened so quickly in our event. It was over in terms of the gunshot within 23 seconds. Most victims were shot within the first three minutes of the attack.
Another interesting statistic, and actually as we learned in the waiver hearing of our shooter, they study response times and the average urban police department response time is between three and six minutes. Most school shootings have occurred in affluent communities.
The majority of school shootings have occurred in semi-rural and rural areas. And of course our school is very rural. And the shooter knew they would take between 12 and 15 minutes for first responders to arrive, which was one of the reasons why our school was chosen in his mind.
98% of active shooter events have occurred in jurisdictions with small or medium law enforcement agencies. Those agencies that have fewer than a hundred officers.
And I think this last bullet is so important that threat leakage is one of the best and most important predictors of an adolescent impending violence act.
We’ve must as educators take serious any school threat, whether it’s something passed in an email, a text or letter, or a student says, I’m going to shoot the school. We must take every one of these threats seriously and do our due diligence to investigate.
So what I’d like to share with you are some lessons that we learned and we learned the hard way and I’ll start with just some things that schools need to do to be prepared should they ever have a school shooting.
I think one of the most important things, and certainly it proved to be invaluable for our event, is that you need to have regular active shooter response training. And there’s lots of different curriculums out there, but it’s important. Just like you do for fire drills, you need to do the same thing for active shooters. They need to be regularly practiced so that not just employees, but your students know how to respond should there be an active shooter on campus.
We also need to set up in your drill calendar, different types of experiences or different types of active shooters. They’re not all going to be locked down. You may have a situation, or need to at least have your teachers and students prepare for if an active shooter breaches and gets inside the school, what their response may look different.
I’ve got some language in here because we use Alice, but clearly you need to know how to lock down. You need to be able to have things in place to inform people within the building about the shooters whereabouts. In some situations if it’s appropriate training on how to confront the shooter, how to evacuate, if that’s the best scenario.
But I think one of the things that we’ve really worked on an Anderson for is trying to pick different times of the day, different types of weapons, and trying to hit these different types of responses so that we’re at least prepared the best that we can, should another school shooting happened.
I also put on there that’s important to remember that sometimes your folks or your students and employees are outside. And in our case, we actually had to do a reverse evacuation because we had students and staff on the playground that had to get back into the school based on the location of the shooter.
One of the things that I want to stress is that the first action that anybody should make if they see an active shooter on campus, is they need to shout lockdown, call the front office and then call 911.
The other thing I want to mention before I move on is the importance of a safe room in all buildings and that is a place that should have no windows, a secure location, where one or two people have the responsibility of going in and locking the door behind them and being able to communicate out to the school where the shooter is. It also includes, in addition to just communication resources, it also has all the camera feeds so that they can clearly have a good idea about entire campus and what’s taking place and also be able to communicate that with 911.
In our case, we had a substitute on playground. So I think as you are thinking about preparation and training and who needs to be involved, you clearly need to include your substitutes. They need to know what to do in the event there’s an active shooter and they also have to know or have access back into the building. And we learned that from our situation, just the way the school was laid out, the classroom with the students were unable to go back in the classroom door because the shooter was located right there, so they had to run around to the side of the building and get access into one of the doors to the side. So again, just an idea to plant the seed that you need to think about substitutes and you need to think about giving them access in and outside the school.
A conversation that we’ve had a lot about is concerning classroom doors and should they be locked or not locked during the school day? And we actually had door magnets at Townville on the day of the shooting and those door magnets enabled, because of our classroom doors locked from the inside, these magnets would lock from the outside, these magnets with allow the door to be in a locked state because of the way it just slips right over where the locking mechanism goes into the frame so that the door is locked, that people can come in and out, students can leave, go to see, to be able to come back in without the door being unlocked.
We feel like it was a great solution. It certainly was invaluable on that day because all teachers had to do was flip the magnets off the door and go into lockdown versus fumbling with keys to try to lock the door from the outside. We’ve had a lot of conversation in South Carolina because these door magnets do not comply with international fire code. And so, currently we are swapping out door locks throughout our schools because best practice is to think about safety versus convenience. And that means classroom doors should be locked at all times.
Another important preparation is to build relationship in advance with first responders and local churches. That proved to be a huge help to asset to Townville. The first responders, those volunteer firefighters, knew the building, they had been in the building, they were communicating with the school, they were not part of the 911 response, they just happened to be in the community and they knew the school, but that was huge in terms of quick response and being able to communicate and know where they needed to help because we did have one student that had a level one trauma injury and was bleeding out very quickly. So those relationships are key. I think also with your local churches, having those folks as friends of the school, it proved to be very helpful to us with our reunification for this event, which I’ll talk about in just a few minutes.
Another thing that we did after the school seating, but I would suggest it to anybody, is to conduct a facility safety audit with law enforcement. I don’t have a criminal mind and I’m not sure many educators do, but if you could get people that understand how criminals think to walk your campuses and provide you with some insights on things that you should swap out or change or practices, it really is invaluable. And it helped us to think about how we conduct recess, how outside of PE is conducted field day, exterior door entrances. We have some schools that had way too many windows and just the whole main entrance flow. So again, I would strongly suggest if you haven’t done that, that you consider doing an audit.
One point I will stress, and I’ve been in a lot of trainings since the shooting that we’ve had here, is that you don’t want to over secure your campuses. The research has been very clear that your schools need to be welcoming and secure, but you don’t want to make them look like a prison because it actually shows that those that are more welcoming, there’s less crime and they’re safe for school.
It’s also very important to establish and practice a leadership central office response and support plan. I’m sure all of you that are on this call have an active shooter plan. You’ve got people that are responsible for different activities should there be an active shooter on campus. But one thing I would stress is, as I started this whole conversation, you’re more likely to have a school shooting than a school fire. Those folks really need to have their skills sharpened in terms of what our duty is going to be should you have a need to have to go into actually carrying out that active shooter plan. You also need to have backup members. My Assistant Superintendent, which is second behind me, was out on medical leave. And so she had a huge role should we have an event like this and she was not available. So having backup and practicing that, I can’t stress it enough.
And then one thing I’ve added here in yellow. People are going to be on campus long before you can really have before law enforcement gets there and it gets very chaotic. And then when the first responders get there, there are hundreds of them. And it’s chaotic and so, we would, if this ever happened again where there was a need, we have people that are assigned for helping with securing the incident parameter because parents, all they want to do is run and grab their children and get out there, and that’s not what we need them to do. So having some folks that can actually carry out that would be very helpful.
Conversation with your local districts or district partners I think is also important. We’re a small district. We don’t have a communications office. There were just several things that as we went through the response, having to depend on our sister partner school districts made a huge difference. So I would recommend that you think about what resources you need and have a conversation with another district or two about how you can share resources should something like this occur.
Installing trauma kits and providing training. I’ll be honest, I’ve been in HR for many, many years prior to the superintendency and I’ve conducted a lot of school nurse interviews, and I never had to ask a question or even thought about asking the question, “Are you comfortable with providing a level one trauma care?” which you see on the battlefield. It just blows my mind that we are in this state where our employees, our school nurses are having to be trained in this and be comfortable with applying a tourniquet.
And so, we’ve installed trauma kits and all of our schools. We have a couple, I’m in all schools and different locations. We’ve provided training to all of our employees. They know how to apply a tourniquet, how to pack a wound, handle burns, but I think one thing that’s very important, and I ask this question when I go into schools, “Do you know where AED is? Where the trauma kit is? Do you know where the fire alarms are?” I think it’s amazing. You’ll realize just how many people just don’t ever think about it. And if they ever had to utilize it, they may not know where to go.
Having a plan for memorials as part of your active shooter plan. A lot of school districts actually have board policy for that. We did not. But after this event, we clearly started seeing folks coming back to the campus and wanting create memorials. So we actually bought some flowers and tried to start one in an area that we were most comfortable with. But what I’ve learned about memorials is that if you can avoid doing them, you need to do that. We were not successful in avoiding the memorial. And so it was that probably four or five weeks and we had to do a lot of communication with the families of the victims and those that were also shot that survived and obviously with the community, to prepare them for the day when we did take down the memorial. So just a point there is, have a conversation and figure out what’s gonna work best for your school or school district.
Preparing your employees for the response when first responders get in the building. I don’t know how to do this with justice, honestly, because when I heard the stories from the teachers who had been in lockdown, those 4K and 4K and first grade teachers that were in the back rooms with 20 plus students and the light off and it was quiet, and then the next thing they hear is banging on the door and screaming, “Open up. This is the police, this is the law enforcement” and the teachers talking about how they were so scared to open the door because they didn’t know if it was another shooter or the shooter or if it truly was law enforcement coming to help.
And so you can imagine if you can put yourself in their shoes, darkness, 20 some odd young children that they’re trying to keep quiet and safe and then forced with the decision of opening the door. And when they did open the door, what they saw were three law enforcement officers with their guns pointed straight at them. And it was scary. It was tragic. So having that conversation to let them know that law enforcement is not there to care for the wounded, they’re there to clear the building and to ensure that the threat has been diminished.
And this is really just a large bulleted list of support. If you do have a tragedy like this, there will be a lot of things that will have to be done to provide that support, support to those that are in the hospital. your employee assistance program for those employees that are traumatized, that will need counseling. We actually hired two mental health counselors for Townville, to provide support for students as well as staff. We also learned that the event was not just localized at Townville, there were siblings in other schools, there are employees that have relatives, there are school within our district and they were traumatized. So we ended up providing mental health counseling for all of our campuses, our bus drivers as well, and we did that for several months because of the need.
Another thing that we did that worked very well and we’re still doing it and we’re almost two years out, is providing additional substitutes, just extra hands within the school for our staff at Townville. There’s still a need, they’re doing incredibly well, but there still is a need where there are times when they have a moment and just need to step away from teaching and having these substitutes within the building just give them extra support when it is needed.
We learned from the experts or we did learn from the experts that after a school shooting, to expect some learning regression, drop in student enrollment, and staff turnover. We were very concerned about that. Townville is a National Blue Ribbon School, high performing. We added some safety things to give students that extra time, just to offset any potential learning regression. And thankfully in our situation that didn’t occur, Townville scores were soaring at the end of the first year. We anticipate that to be the same this year. But that’s based on, I think, their commitment to not letting this event be a defining moment for them. But in most school shootings, learning regression does happen, student enrollment does drop, and the tendency for staff turnover happens.
Now we brought in a lot of consultants and they were very helpful and they provided some additional outreach and support to my cabinet members who were traumatized from the jobs that they had to do from going there to help get the school clean, from moving the location of the classroom where the shooting happened to another classroom in the building. There were just so many things that have to happen in order for the school to reopen. And so having these consultants come in and provide those focus groups and support were really invaluable. And one grape that we overlooked at first, but then came back, and provided some group sessions were the spouses of the employee from Townville. And that has proved to be very beneficial as we are still in our recovery.
The next area of ideas is really just about ensuring that you have with first responders need, should they have to come or respond to an active shooter. And honestly, I always thought Knox boxes, we have them at our schools, they have a master key, and I assumed that law enforcement would have the ability to access that key in that Knox box, and that was not true. And so we have gone back and provided, another Knox box that would be available to law enforcement on all of our campuses so that, that can get them in the front door and they don’t have to kick down your front door to be able to have access once they get inside.
We also installed law enforcement boxes because in our audit with law enforcement, there are certain things they need that will help them clear the building. And so in this law enforcement box, we have a two-way radio, we have a map of the school, and we have a black eraser marker so that they actually can use that map and mark off on the map those classrooms or areas that they’ve cleared. We did not have that on the 28th. And so as they went through the building, they put a big red X on every classroom door. We have since removed those X’s, but you can still see where the X’s were.
So this is just a copy, you can’t see it very clearly. But then the main point here is that we’ve labeled everything and we’ve gone through our entire school district using the same labeling system, so that law enforcement in our communities know if they go in any school it’s going to be labeled and configured the same way.
Another thing that I think is extremely important is to develop and practice an effective communication plan as part of any active shooter plan. During the event there you need to be thinking about how you’re going to communicate to your different stakeholders. And the first one are those employees in the building, and if your school or school district or schools within your school district is anything like ours, cell phones work most of the time, but not all the time. So it’s not a foolproof tool to use in the event of an emergency.
But what I will tell you is, that in the debriefing and conversation with those employees at Townville, every employee went and reached for their cell phone before they went into lockdown and the cell phones worked on that day. So, that to me is an option. It’s a resource that you can push out information so that they can know, yes, this is a real event, the shooters outside, you’re in lockdown, you’re fine, law enforcement’s on its way. We also have on our cell phones, an app that includes information on how to respond in different emergency situations, like an active shooter, we use that as well. Two-way radios obviously are obviously ideal. And then in the recent months, we’ve acquired safereceivers, which is just a one-way communication tool, that the principal can push out information to teachers within the building.
I think most all have parent messaging systems that I will tell you what a tragedy, it was invaluable. I spent a lot of time on communication for the first five days and then beyond, but in those first four or five days, it was very important for me to communicate with parents of Townville. And so, having ongoing messages, update, and recording those messages in my voice, brought a lot of sense of calmness and helped those parents feel good about safety in our schools.
I don’t have an answer to this, but I put it as a bullet. The timing of when you let your parents know that there’s been a school shooting and that’s really the point of that bullet. Townville was 20 minutes away from the central office. So it took me about probably on that day, maybe 14 minutes to get there. That’s a whole nother story. But then you have to have time to assess and make sure that you’ve got the situation under control before parents, you send an all call and everybody shows up. So I think our first call went out probably around 2:20, 2:25. I don’t know if that’s too late, but at that time it felt appropriate because we had thought about the right words that needed to be communicated and we felt like we had control over the situation.
One area that I didn’t do, but I have in place now is when I left the central office, my thoughts were not on this building at all. I had talked to the sheriff, it was a contained situation. There wasn’t a threat of any gun violence or an active shooter on any of our other campuses. And I was able to communicate that to all my leadership. So what I learned afterwards though, is that people contacted the central office and the phone was just ringing crazy. There were hundreds of calls from concerned employee’s, concerned community citizens, the governor, legislators, dignitaries. There was just a whole lot of calls coming through, include the media, and one person up there trying to navigate it. We now have a plan on how to get ongoing updates here to the central office and then a bank of our employees that work here will be charged with answering the phone calls and disseminating up to date information That’s something that really was helpful.
The other that was honestly overwhelming was just the number of people that wanted to send gifts and wanting to provide teddy bears and meals. You needed a full time person just to handle all those calls. And so now we have a plan in place for, two people to handle the call and be able to send out thank you’s and just be able to oversee that entire effort.
We used our phone a lot. And most all of our friends died before we needed them to die on that day. So again, having different types of phone chargers around you when you respond because my car was nowhere near where I was needing to be as events continued with the response and recovery, so I could have benefited greatly from phone a charger.
We also have had put on our phones security camera access and this has been invaluable. We actually had it on that day, which was very helpful. We can see what was happening at Townville, but law enforcement also has access to our cameras. And so again, this has an app that we have found to be very invaluable and useful.
I know as a Superintendent, we talked in principle, I know you all as well, we talked about the importance of how to use email, but when you ever have a situation and clearly an event like this you’re going to get foyers. And so just a reminder, it’s always important to tell employees that don’t put anything in writing that you don’t want to see on the front page of the newspaper or at the 6:00 TV news hour. Just be mindful about the appropriate use of email.
And then, being prepared for the media. It was a national event. We had ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, they were honest before we could even, I mean, within hours. And I’ve just learned over my years that it’s important to be proactive. And so I did not have a communications person here in my district. So the communication spokesperson was myself and it’s better to go out to them and answer their questions and give them the information because it really helps ensure that there’s accuracy to the information that’s being shared.
And I will be quickly because I know our time is coming to an end here shortly in terms of my part, but I think the reunification option, that resources really something you need to think about. We originally had other schools listed as possible reunification sites. We have since done away with that because what we saw was even though the situation was contained at Townville, it’s spilled into every other campus and parents came to all the campuses trying to get their children, so it would not have worked to move our students from Townville to another school. In our case we used a local church and it was ideal.
Clearly you’re going to need two spaces for reunification because you need to separate the students from the parents. You need to account for the students and there needs to be that whole process for how you’re going to do that. And then a place for parents to sign out that they’ve actually picked up their student.
At the central office, we’ve identified those members that will oversee this particular process because the school that’s involved with the school shooting is not going to be able to do that. We did have some folks from Townville that was very helpful, but we feel like it’s something like this happen in the future, we would really want to have that process knocked out by folks that have not actually been through the shooting, that would be there to oversee it and coordinate it.
Live data. And we’ve talked a lot about that in our district. We had some schools that would, as students checked out, they would accumulate them and enter when those students left the building at the end of the day. And so, we now ensure that all of our schools have live data so that we know who’s in the building at every moment and that’s critical in a situation like this because you need to know who you need to account for as that reunification site. So having access to your, in our case, PowerSource data was extremely important. And then just having the computer and printer for rosters was also helpful.
Developing a plan for extra buses as part of a crisis or active shooter plan. We were fortunate. It was a small school. It did happen close to dismissal, but we were able to get all the students on the buses to the reunification site. If this had happened at a larger school that wouldn’t have happened and so this is just a bullet to say think about your buses and what you would have to do at different times of the day if you had to evacuate all the students. How would you do it? Do you have enough buses? Do you need to partner with another district? Ask that very important questions so that you would be prepared in the event of a tragedy like this.
Water and snacks. Clearly, folks were in lockdown for over an hour. They were traumatized. If something like this happen in the future, we certainly have some things in place with our food service to make sure that there are water and snacks for the students and staff.
New Construction. Just a couple of thoughts. In some of our schools that are newer, they are architecturally beautiful and have a lot of glass windows, which are nice when the sun comes in and the light. But what we’ve seen is that having too many glass windows around classroom doors are too many windows at the front entrance. Makes it very easy for somebody that wants to do harm to be able to just shoot through the glass, reach around and locked the door and have access. So if you are doing new construction, I think having that lens of safety and security is very important.
Also just thinking about the front entrance access flow. We’ve done some renovation and all of our front entrances to where we have a buzzer system on the outside, [inaudible 00:39:38] then once they’ve gone through the questions, who are you and what is your purpose for being here? Then they have access into a front entrance area, air lock area, and then they have access into our reception area. So just conversation about what makes sense and what is the safest way for that flow to occur.
Playground locations. I’ve looked at a lot of playgrounds since our shooting and sadly many playgrounds are not very secure. They’re either located right up front on a busy street or in the back of a school without any secure fencing. And so just conversation about what makes sense so that we can ensure when students are outside playing, that they’re safe.
I’ve already talked a little bit about classroom locks. I think for us right now with the current latest technology, if we were able to go to a proxy card system, we would love to do that because that makes most sense. That way, if a student needed to go out to speech or the restroom, they could take a proxy card, go out, and when they come back they can just scan and have access back into the classroom without interruption to instruction. But, we’ve got a lot of old schools and as I mentioned earlier, those classroom locks, lock from the outside. And so we’re looking at what makes sense right now because he can’t afford the proxy cards, so that our teachers are able to lock the door from the inside.
We’ve also looked at what makes sense with perimeter protection. And so we have added some attractive fencing, especially around back those roads into our campuses. We’re also looking at adding over the summer and the fall, some electronic gate systems, so that it’s just not wide open for food and car traffic to have access to the back of our building.
And then just a bullet about landscaping and security cameras. We have some beautiful trees and a lot of landscaping that was put in a long before I was here, that we’ve had to remove because we want to be able to make sure that our cameras can see what they need to see. And so if you’ve got new construction, I think you need to think about, first of all, safety and security and making sure that over the years, whatever you’re putting in with landscaping is not going to cause you not to be able to see your entire campus.
And just recently we upgraded our outside communication, our PA system. So it’s important. Remember, folks can be inside or outside the building and they need to be able to hear whatever is happening with an active shooter event. So having that communication be clearly communicated on the outside of the building is important as well.
And lastly, I’ll just finish with adult behavior. I think it’s so important that our adults are trained and understand the importance of being visible and vigilant. I think the buzz-in process is one that’s very important. A lot of schools have these and I visited and even in my own schools, and I pushed the button, and the door unlocks and I’m able to come in. That bothers me. Why have the buzzing system if everybody can just get buzzed in? The buzzer system should be a way for that receptionist to say what’s your name and what was your reason for being here? And if they don’t feel comfortable because we have cameras on that buzzing area, they shouldn’t open the door. So communicating those messages to our receptionists and empowering them to know they just don’t let anyone in because then why have the buzz-in process? So again, another conversation and just ongoing training and communication.
I think coming up with a recess plan within an active shooter plan is also important. We now have, during recess time, we have full time SROs that are on our playgrounds or recess time, but we also have another adult with a two-way radio. That teacher’s job is just to really monitor and look to see if there’s anything suspicious. And so just again, another conversation, another way to elevate the safety.
Propping doors open. I think this is a worldwide issue, but having those conversations about the importance of keeping those perimeter doors locked at all times and not propping them open. When you prop the door open, you open the potential of somebody that wants to do something bad, having easy access into the school.
We have ID badge system in our school district and our employees where badges as well. And so we talk a lot about the importance of if there’s somebody in the buildings that does not have an ID, a visitor badge, you need to question him. And so having that conversation and process in place to ensure that everybody’s empowered to be vigilant and visible or watching, and if they see something that doesn’t seem right, that they should go and act upon it.
I’ve already missed mentioned this about sharing student threats, but again, I just can’t stress it enough. After Parkland, there was a real spike nationally with student threats and we certainly had it here in our school district. And some, there was no validity to it, but one or two there were. And I’m thankful that we responded to all of them with a sense of urgency and that we took the steps to respond in the appropriate way to handle those situations where someone is a threat to themselves and possibly to others.
So I will end by just saying we may not be able to stop a bad person from doing something bad. But I think it’s important that we continue to explore new opportunities to ensure that we’re doing everything reasonable to make our campuses as safe as possible for our students. I really hope that the information that I’ve shared today has been helpful. In today’s landscape, these kinds of preventative and responsive actions not only elevate our safety and security, but I think they also strengthen the message that our schools are safe, and that’s an important message that we need to send our students, our parents and our employees. I know that there’s gonna be some time for questions later, so right now I will turn it back over to Jim.
Well, thank you very much Dr. Avery. Super helpful. A lot of good learnings and insights there for everyone on this call, so thank you very much.
As you mentioned, we are going to come back to live Q&A, so please, if you have not yet entered questions into the question bar on the Webinar, please do so now. And what we’ll do over the next few minutes on our side, we will collate those questions and then we will come back, to the Q&A in just a few minutes.
So I want to take a couple of minutes here to go over the basics of what Raptor does for those of you who aren’t familiar with Raptor, For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Raptor, we are the nation’s leading provider of integrated school safety technologies. We serve over 20,000, schools across the United States today. And hold on one second. I just need to show this screen here.
So we serve over 20,000 schools across the United States today. Everything from the top 10 largest districts in America down to single school districts and absolutely everything in between. So no matter what the size of your district, we probably have dozens, if not hundreds of similar districts across the United States.
This is a bit of a heat map that shows you, some of the districts we’re in. It’s actually not complete. So we’re in a more districts in this across the country. We have three main solutions of Raptor. A visitor management solution. So basically, Dr. Avery alluded to some of these best practices in knowing who’s coming in and out of your school, but the visitor management system allows you to know everyone who’s coming in and out of the building. It allows you to run a couple of checks on those visitors, including instant sex offender and a background check. In these days we flag about 40 registered sex offenders a day attempting to our client schools. It also allows you to run a custom alert check so you can put things in that custom alert like custom issues or ban visitors or any other type of custom alert for the district or the school that you’d like. And we issue about 100 of those custom alerts a day
Raptor also has a volunteer management solution. It’s an end-to-end volunteer management solution. Everything from the application to volunteer electronic, so that the district doesn’t have to retype that application in, to the full criminal background check on the volunteer through to tracking the hours in the school through to reporting on volunteers, end-to-end, volunteer management.
And finally, Raptor has an emergency management solution. I’m going to go through a couple of those pieces, but the emergency management solution at Raptor is about basically drill preparation, emergency preparation. It’s about active incident response and it’s about parent reunification.
So the first element within Raptor Emergency Management is what we call Raptor Drill Manager. Instead of attempting to manage your drills using Google Docs or Excel spreadsheets, receiving faxed or emailed a drill, handwritten drill confirmation forms, what Raptor Drill Manager allows you to do is do everything with 21st century technology. So it allows you to create your schedule customized for your district, publish those drills out to each individual school, have dashboards both of the district level and at the school level where you can see exactly what drills haven’t done, haven’t been done, that includes automated notifications at the school level and at the district level. It basically brings everything together into one 21st century system that allows you to manage it much more efficiently and much more easily and much more visibility than the paper and pencil systems that exist today.
The second element of Raptor emergency management allows you to run the drills and respond to active incidents. And I’m going to go through that in a little bit more detail here, but what it does do is it syncs with your SIS, so it can pull down your student rosters as late as they were updated in the application, it will pull down that student roster. It’ll give you mobile access to your emergency plan. So any PDF, building maps, checklists, emergency response, anything that you have in a pdf you can put onto a mobile device, walk out of the building and have that right there. You can show it or share it with first responders, etc.
And it does everything all the way through to a streamlined reunification system. I’m not going to have time to show the streamline reunification system, but at any point you have questions about that or would like to see a demo, don’t hesitate to contact Raptor.
So right now I’m going to show an example here of what would happen in a lockdown incident. I’m going to show a lockdown incident. This could be anything. It could be a secure perimeter, it could be a gas leak, it could be absolutely any type of emergency situation.
I’m also going to use an example incident commander here. I’m going to use an SRO. If you don’t have SROs, that’s okay. It could be the principal, the assistant principal, a district level, emergency management incident commander. Any type of incident commander can can play this role.
And what would happen in a situation, for example, perhaps a lockdown is that you would follow your normal protocols in terms of if you, for example, issue a PA announcement regarding the lockdown in plain English, you would do that. But any incident commander, including an SRO can also initiate an incident that will alert all staff both at the building level and at the district level. They can walk through and give the basic information on this incident. Is it a drill or an emergency?
What type? Here, if you follow the standard response protocol, for example, you can customize this to fit that exactly. If you don’t, if you follow some other protocol, you can customize it for that. But let’s say in this situation it is a lock is a lockdown. You choose your school, in this case Eisenhower Elementary and you can now initiate an incident. Once you double confirm, alerts go out. So again, this is complimentary to the announcement that you have today, but alerts go out both at the building level and at the district level to everyone involved in that particular incident.
And the real key is what happens inside the classroom in a situation such as this. So today, many times in a lockdown situation like this, and I know there are different protocols, but many times what will happen is the teacher will turn off the lights, lock the door and head to the corner. And that is great. But what you lose at this point in a situation such as this is visibility inside these locked classrooms. So with the Raptor application, the teacher can actually pull out any mobile device at anytime, they can account for themselves, so in this case, this teacher, Robert Collins, is accounting for himself. He’s saying, I’m accounted for and I’m in Room 103.
At that point, if you hit the roster for that teacher, it will pull up that roster list. You’ll see all the students in that classroom and if have a student that’s not supposed to be in that classroom, you can look that student up and take care of that student as well. You can say whether they’re accounted for, absent, missing, injured, their status. And within a minute or a minute and a half, you can have accounted for all of your students and any other students that you have at that point inside that locked door. And not only is this happening in one particular classroom, it’s happening across the entire building, so this starts to give you visibility inside each and every classroom’s status and location of students and teachers in real-time, visibility that you just don’t have today.
At the incident commander level, I’m showing the SRO, but this could be at the district level. This could be the principal, it could be multiple incident commanders at the same time, they actually have dashboards and they are able to see status, location, and users across this incident. You can even drill down into any of these fields. For example, if you see that there is an injured student, you can drill down. You can see that the interest student’s name is Jin Anthony. You can drill further. You can see a picture of Jin Anthony. You can see that she’s in fourth grade. You can see that her injured status was recorded by Robert Collins at 8:28 AM, and she is in Room 103. If you drill down even further, you can, if you choose to pull this in from your SIS, you can get her emergency contact information. You can see that her mother’s name is Sharon Anthony, and with one click of a button you can call the mother. Again, access to data and visibility into this incident in real time in a way that you just don’t have today.
That is a very brief overview of the accountability element, the active management element of Raptor. Again, there’s an element that handles reunification from start to finish, but I think at this point we’ve actually collated the questions. I’m going to turn it back over to Eileen to manage this Q&A session.
Wonderful. Thank you, Jim. Yep. We have time for a couple of questions. If we don’t get to your question, please rest assured that we’ll certainly follow up with you afterwards.
Dr. Avery, the first question is for you from Travis. How do you deal with law enforcement banging on lock doors? Do you simply open the doors and risk the chance that they are shooters, ask for ID or take some other actions?
Well, I think the key there is having your communication resources in place. If the teacher knows what’s going on while in lock down, they’re going to feel confident about opening the door when the doors bang and the law enforcement says open up. And I can’t stress that enough how important it is to have the safe room to be able to have that person to communicate out where the active shooter is and whether or not the active shooter’s been detained, and having the folks within the building having live information as it’s unfolding, if that makes sense.
Absolutely. Thank you, Dr. Avery.
Jim question for you on the pricing of the Raptor Emergency Management System.
Sure, so the Raptor emergency management system for new clients that don’t otherwise use Raptor, so there’s two different prices. One is if you just come in to Raptor and you can buy the system as a standalone emergency management system. For that, it’s approximately $1,000 per building per year. However, if you are a Raptor client, if you already use our visitor or volunteer management solution, the price does drop down to approximately $760 per building per year. So it depends on whether you’re a Raptor client or not.
Great. Thank you, Jen.
Okay, we have a few other questions. We will certainly follow up with you afterwards because we’re right at time.
Dr. Avery, thank you again for joining us today.
You will find contact information for both Raptor and Dr. Avery on this on this screen, and wanted to let you all know we have several upcoming webinars in the Raptor School Safety Series. The next one is Moe Kennedy, Executive Director of NASRO, the national association of school resource officers. That’s happening on Thursday, July 26th at 1:00 PM Central. He’ll speak about why and how to engage local law enforcement in school drills.
Also, you will receive an email survey shortly. If you could give us your feedback, we would greatly appreciate it so that we can take your input into account as we plan for a future webinar topics.
And, this concludes our broadcast today. Thank you all very much for joining us and we hope to see you on the next webinar.