Pine Belt schools stress safety after San Bernardino shooting

Pine Belt schools stress safety after San Bernardino shooting

PETAL, MS (WDAM) - After a school visitor shot and killed his estranged wife and a student at her San Bernardino elementary school Monday, Pine Belt school districts said they have safety plans in place, but can learn from tragedies in other parts of the country.

Andy Schoggin, chief operations officer for the Petal School District, said the district constantly adapts and enhances its own security measures based on incidents that happen across the country.

"What we do is try to be proactive," he said. "We look at situations that have occurred, and think how could that apply here? What would be our response?"

Increasing the number of school resource officers is one way Petal is ramping up security.

"That's important," Schoggin said. "That provides an extra layer there, an extra personnel, but again, it goes back to never being complacent."

Schoggin said there are standard safety procedures in place across the district, but said each school has its own safety plan based on the building and the age of the students.

"Five different campuses present five different plans," he said. "That starts with access to buildings. Obviously, they know that it takes a little more to get inside our buildings with magnetic locks. Access to kids is restricted."

Along with making it harder to get into the building and keeping tabs on who is inside by looking at driver's licenses, students learn what to do in emergencies and the drills are there to keep them safe, not scare them.

"We routinely do drills (at every school)," he said. "Everything from fire and evacuation drills. Unfortunately, we've had our share of tornado drills also, some more realistic than others, but all of our other safety drills. Then, we'll debrief. What went well? What could we change? Just varying times of day because student populations shifts throughout the day. I have a first grader and he'll come home and tell me, 'Dad, we did a drill today.' He'll know if it's a fire drill or a tornado drill or some of those things. He understands that, and the way that our teachers present it, I think, is the important thing, especially to our younger kids. They present it as, 'Boys and girls this is what we're going to do. This is why we're going to do it, and this is how we're going to do it.' It's not scary it's just part of what they've come to understand."

Schoggin said if there is any kind of safety concern, the district will alert parents when it happens and how it is progressing.

"We're also going to let them know that everyday, we're going to do the best we can to protect their child," he said. "Everyday, parents send us their most valuable resource, and our goal is to send them home in the same shape or better everyday."