Salem district doesn't track school safety drills
SALEM — Oregon schools are required to conduct at least two drills on safety threats every year, but the state's second-largest school district hasn't tracked which of its schools has complied with the new state law.
The Statesman Journal reported that it asked eight high schools in the Salem-Keizer School District if they conducted at least two drills on safety threats during the 2013-14 school year.
Some schools said they didn't do the lockdown drills. One high school conducted one lockdown drill. Others were unsure whether they complied.
District administrators weren't keeping track either, as they do for earthquake and fire drills, the newspaper reported.
District spokesman Jay Remy said they're working on developing a system for schools to report how many drills on safety threats they do.
“Our goal is to be in compliance with the law, so if we're slow in doing that, we need to speed up and get there,” Remy said. The district serves more than 40,000 students.
Remy did not know how many of Salem-Keizer's 65 schools had complied with the state law, which legislators passed in 2013 in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.
The law doesn't explicitly define what a safety threat is, but distinguishes between fire, earthquake and tsunami drills. A drill on a safety threat could include a lockdown drill, the Statesman Journal said.
Rep. Betty Komp, D-Woodburn, the lead sponsor of House Bill 2789, said lawmakers left the definition of “drills on safety threats” broad to give school districts more local control.
Oregon Department of Education spokeswoman Crystal Greene said the state isn't keeping track of these drills. Under the law, there isn't a reporting requirement or a penalty for not conducting the required drills.
According to the Education Commission of the States, more than 20 states require lockdown or similar types of drills.
Ken Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, said education officials are not proactively auditing or asking questions about the data that is being submitted.
He said there can be benefits to going through an actual drill. School officials, for example, may learn that speakers don't function, restrooms aren't checked or teachers aren't locking their doors.
Information from: Statesman Journal, http://www.statesmanjournal.com