Edmonds School Board briefed on new response policy for violent intruders

Edmonds_School_DistrictThe Edmonds School District is planning to adopt a new response policy to deal with potential violent intruders.

District staff briefed the Board of Directors on the changes during Tuesday’s Board meeting.

The current practice when faced with a violent intruder is to go into a lockdown in which students assemble in a classroom or somewhere else and huddle together. The doors are locked and everyone remains quiet with electronic devices turned off. No one goes in and out during a lockdown.

Because such organizations as the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Department of Homeland and Department of Education have decided that a lockdown is no longer sufficient for violent intruder situations, the District is changing to a Run, Hide, Fight model. The recent shootings at Marysville-Pilchuck High School and at Columbine High School reemphasized to officials that a lockdown is not the best practice.

The District plans to follow what is referred to as A.L.I.C.E., which means Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. The ALICE Institute took the federal Run, Hide and Fight formula and built on it and developed training for schools.

ALICE includes different options such as barricading, evacuating and counter attack. The ALICE Institute is a foundation and plans are customized for age group and school. The Lake Stevens School District has been using ALICE for two years and the Mukilteo School District has introduced ALICE and Run, Hide and Fight to its principals.

The Edmonds Police Department was looking into the lockdown issue before the Marysville shootings and was introduced to ALICE by the District. An officer later was sent for ALICE training. A representative from the Edmonds Police said the goal is to empower students and staff to make their own decisions on how they are going to conduct themselves in the ALICE program. He described the program as a good model which to build upon. The District also has consulted with law enforcement in Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Brier and with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

Executive Director of Business and Operations Stewart Mhyre said that ALICE recently was introduced to building administrators and the district will be talking further about the program.

“Some of the schools are already very, very interested in moving to this and some will probably take a little bit more time to come along,” he said.

The response plans from the ALICE program will vary from school to school.

“What happens at the high school will look different than what happens at the middle school and what happens at the elementary and even within each one of those, the plans will all have to custom made because the buildings are different, the communities are different, the surroundings around the building are different,” Mhyre said. “So you almost have to take each one on a case-by-case basis.”

At the high school and middle school levels, an emphasis will be on teaching students to evacuate in an orderly way. For elementary schools, the focus will be on listening to and following what the teachers say.

Roll out of the ALICE program probably will take a full year and District staff will come back to the Board with policies and procedures.

– By David Pan

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