Natrona County School Officials: Safety Plan Worked During Threat
The Natrona County School District has been developing safety and security plans for years for its students, staff and buildings.
On Oct. 18, those plans were put to the test.
Someone reported on the Safe2Tell tip line that a suspicious and armed person was near the Natrona County High School, which prompted a lockout there and at two other schools. Another separate report later that morning prompted a lockout at the Casper Classical Academy.
"It elevated as the tipster started sharing additional information to where CPD and NCSD, Highway Patrol, Sheriff's Office and all others responded to it as it was a serious live incident occurring within the building," district spokeswoman Tanya Southerland said after a board of trustees meeting on Monday.
Law enforcement responded and conducted armed sweeps of the high school and the Casper Classical Academy. The lockouts were lifted. Later that day, a 14-year-old girl was arrested and charged with making a terroristic threat -- a felony -- for making a false report.
"The district and law enforcement responded to that incident exactly as they should have," Southerland said.
Mike Jennings, district executive director of human resources, said the district and law enforcement have met to evaluate their responses, Jennings said. "In the situation that was very active and live in the moment, the processes did work."
Those processes have arisen from the district's evolving 10-component safety and security plan has codified awareness, prevention and training for issues from bullying to the extreme incident on Oct. 18.
Monday, Jennings and associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction Walt Wilcox told the board that such a significant incident with an active and armed individual in a building had not happened for about eight years.
The plan began after that, and the trustees have received periodic updates about the plan's components:
- Needs assessment and data collection.
- Threat and potential danger assessment and protocols.
- Consistent school-wide behavior systems.
- Staff and student crisis training.
- Instruction and support programs.
- Communications and messaging systems.
- Review existing policies regulations, and standard operating procedures. This covers student conduct and discipline, bullying, child protection, drug-free workplace, bus safety and public disclosure about incidents.
- Crisis management.
- Facility preventative measures.
Regarding personnel, the district now has nine Casper police school resource officers and will have another next school year. These officers cost $760,000, with 70% of that amount paid by the district.
The district will be entering a partnership with the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office for school resource officers for Midwest, Bar Nunn, and rural schools.
Besides the ability to respond to crises, Jennings said the officers spend time with students to build relationships with students.
The final part of the plan -- facility preventive measures -- has resulted in spending millions of dollars over the past five years to secure buildings.
Jennings said the first thing done was to lock exterior doors to control access points and then place locks on all classroom doors.
The district has installed a number of safety and security projects in recent years, and the funding has come from several sources.
The district receives from the state about $8.5 million a year in major maintenance funds for all facilities, and 10% of that can be used for safety and security projects. The state has allocated the district an additional $950,000 in capital construction safety and security funds for the 2020 fiscal year. The district itself also has allocated $1.5 million for safety and security projects.
During this school year, the district is working on these and other projects:
- Install additional cameras.
- Enhance main entrance video monitoring.
- Add exterior LED security lighting.
- Add bollards — short posts in front of buildings.
- Install or improve security fencing.
- Replace or improve intercom systems.