School officials meet with kids about Florida shooting


When the principal at Crothersville Junior-Senior High School heard the news of a mass shooting Wednesday afternoon at a school in Florida, he knew he wanted to talk about it with his own students as soon as possible.

So Thursday morning, Adam Robinson gathered his students and those from Crothersville Elementary School together to remind them of the school’s safety precautions in the wake of the shooting that left at least 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former student of the school located in in Parkland, Florida, has been arrested and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. Parkland is located in Broward County, about 30 miles northwest of Fort Lauderdale.

“When I spoke to the students this morning (Thursday), I told them their education is fantastic, but your safety is top priority,” Robinson said, adding school officials talk about safety frequently. “I reminded them not to let people in the building, and if someone comes up to the door that’s not the main entrance, just point them to the main door. If they get mad, they can get mad at me.”

Robinson said students were not fearful but had questions about the shooting and how many the country has seen this year.

At the beginning of the school year, a decision was made at Crothersville schools to discontinue a pass code system that allowed teachers and staff to get into the building by entering a number. A new system involving card scanners was implemented.

“Only authorized staff have those cards, and it’s no longer just a number,” Robinson said.

He said an Indiana State Police trooper also walked through the building to see if he could find safety issues.

“He said we were good here,” Robinson said.

Crothersville police offices are around the school a lot during events and throughout the week, too, he added.

“Their presence is felt,” he said.

Rob Hooker, superintendent of Seymour Community School Corp., said many are still processing what happened in Florida.

“… it was only 24 hours ago,” Hooker said. “It has been a sad 24 hours.”

Not just because of the Florida attack but the one in Kentucky that happened Jan. 23 at Marshall County High School in Benton, he said. That incident left two students dead and 18 others injured. A student also was arrested in connection with that event.

Hooker said Seymour Community School Corp. has a safety committee that focuses on issues, including possible threats to the schools. They are required to meet once a year but often meet more.

“I may call another session in light of recent events,” he said.

That meeting, if called, will include staff at Seymour schools, parochial schools, police and other security personnel, he said.

“They will give us as much as they can about the way that the school was attacked in Florida, and we’ll just use it to revise, update or change practices that we do here,” Hooker said. “Much of the meeting will be closed to the public, especially when it involves procedures for security, but there will most likely be a public component as well where we explain any changes that need to be observed by the public and the student body.”

Greg Walker, Brownstown Central Community School Corp. superintendent, said there are no plans to make specific changes in the wake of the shooting, but the topic of safety is frequently discussed among staff.

“Our administrative team meets every two weeks, and safety is always one of the topics of discussion,” he said, adding students participate in lockdown drills each trimester. “We’re always practicing what we’re supposed to do if that situation ever occurs.”

The school also made upgrades that included an alert system to allow the school to be aware of visitors before they enter. That technology was added during a 2014 renovation project. Visitors also are required to check in at the office prior to entering the building.

In the past, people could walk in and go about wherever they wanted, but that’s not the case anymore, Walker said.

Brownstown Central High School has had two incidents involving students with guns in recent years, but both were resolved after swift action by staff, and no one was injured either time.

Walker said safety efforts are all a part of the reality schools face today.

“Unfortunately, this is something we have to deal with in today’s times,” he said.

Roger Bane, superintendent of Medora Community School Corp., said he spoke with Brad McCammon, school safety director, to go over the safety policies at the school.

Students are reminded of what they should do in a scenario like a school shooting and participate in regular safety drills.

The school has multiple staff members at entrances in the morning and is locked down after the morning bell rings.

Bane said the school doesn’t have a resource officer, but he recently researched the idea of installing a metal detector system at the doors.

Wednesday’s school shooting in Parkland makes the idea seem worth pursuing more than he originally thought, Bane said.

“This may push me to try to figure out the best option for us,” he said, adding the idea is something he hasn’t yet discussed with the school board. “Small schools like us, we don’t have a resource officer, so we need to stop it before it gets in, and if a metal detector is what it takes, that’s a small investment for students’ lives.”

Tribune photographer Aaron Piper contributed to this story.

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