Schools prepared in case of shooter

Most have heard of the tragic school shooting incident which left 17 dead and several injured at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday. Schools in the area do have plans to deal with such an incident should the unlikely situation arise.

Harlan County Schools Superintendent Brent Roark explained Harlan County Schools have prepared for the possibility of an incident.

“The Harlan County School District has plans in place to deal with an active shooter and prevent an active shooter situation from occurring,” Roark said.

Roark said the Harlan County School District works with the Harlan Independent School District as well as law enforcement to put policies in place to deal with active shooter situations.

“We’re meeting with all of them next week to review the policies we’ve got at both districts and make sure the measures we have are taking all the precautions possible to prevent something like this from happening,” Roark said. “The most important precautions are the services being provided by our counselors…Prevention is the most important thing.”

The Kentucky State Police conduct active shooter drill programs, which both the Harlan County and Harlan Independent School districts have recently completed.

“We’ve had that done with every school,” Roark said. “They’ve been conducted with every staff and at every facility.”

Harlan Independent Schools Superintendent CD Morton confirmed Harlan Independent Schools have also completed the Kentucky State Police active shooter program.

“Both our school and Harlan County Schools have had active shooter training for various scenarios,” Morton said. “You practice those things in hopes of being completely prepared…you want to create safe environments for kids where they don’t feel threatened.”

Morton said Harlan Independent School staff completed active shooter training at the beginning of the school year in August.

“Nearly 100 percent of our staff members went through that,” Morton said. “There are so many scenarios that can happen, but you try to do what you can to be as prepared as you possibly can…safety is always at the forefront of what we’re trying to do.”

Roark noted there are two full-time Harlan County Sheriff’s Deputies stationed at Harlan County High School during the school day.

“They’re stationed at Harlan County High School every day we’re there,” Roark said. “They’re in the halls every day from the time students arrive until dismissal.”

Morton said school staff members do keep an eye out for suspicious activity.

“I know in Harlan County (Schools) and Harlan Independent, and I think in most all schools, you’re not going to find people turning a blind eye to that kind of stuff,” Morton said.

Morton pointed out that statistically schools are safe places for children.

“For the large part, considering the number of kids and the many interactions that we have with children and families, schools are very safe places,” Morton said. “The data supports that.”