By Don Worthington
Rock Hill schools declaring a security lockdown will be required to make three calls under the district’s new policy announced Friday – one to 911, one to the district office and a follow-up call to the district office when the lockdown is over.
School principals will have the option of a fourth call, a parent-link call afterward to explain why a lockdown was instituted.
All other calls associated with a security lockdown will be made from the district office.
The policy went into effect Friday afternoon, schools spokesman Elaine Baker said.
The new policy is the result of a Feb. 20 security lockdown at South Pointe High School. Administrators declared a lockdown after students told the school resource officer there would be a shooting after school. The threat was made on Twitter, officials said.
South Pointe officials followed the policy in place at the time, principal Al Leonard said. Officials in the district office, however, thought that school had notified the transportation department of the lockdown.
Because the transportation office was not notified a bus returning from the Applied Technology Center arrived on campus during the lockdown. Students got off the bus, but were not allowed to enter the school.
The incident prompted a review of the lockdown procedures by the district office and school principals earlier this week. Principals gave the new policy a “thumbs up,” Baker said.
“We want to be clear as to who should be responsible for what,” Baker said.
Leonard said the fewer calls required is better.
“When there is a lockdown, I don’t have my mind around who to call,” he said Friday.
That also goes for his staff, he added.
“I don’t want my people wondering to who to call,” he said.
Another change announced Friday is schools will now call a designated phone number at the district office to report a security lockdown. Previously, the call was routed through the district’s switchboard.
Leonard said the Feb. 20 incident came amid South Pointe’s response to a safety briefing from Safe Havens International, a school safety consulting firm, which recently urged district officials to beef up crisis management plans and enact tighter security measures.
Because of those discussions, the staff had been briefed on security procedures before the Feb. 20 incident, Leonard said.
Leonard said the procedure at South Pointe was for a secretary to make the required calls. There are several people who back up the secretary, he said.
“We do what we need to do to keep the students safe,” he said.
Leonard said South Pointe has already implemented several of the security changes proposed by Safe Havens International.
The most visible is that all school doors except the main doors at the school office are locked during the school day. Previously there was one door near the parking lot and school bus drop-off area that was kept unlocked, allowing student access to the school.
Now that door is locked and everyone must enter through the main doors. When a bus, such as the one from ACT drops off students, a staff member – usually Leonard – is at the front doors to open a second set of doors, giving students access to the school without going through the front office.
As part of the security training South Pointe had scheduled a practice lockdown for next week. Because of the Feb. 20 event, the practice lockdown has been cancelled, Leonard said.