ASD Talks About School Safety

(From left to right) ASD Superintendent Jim Browder, Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew and Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan press conference following Connecticut elementary school shootings on Dec. 14, 2012.

Anchorage leaders held a press conference at City Hall today (Friday) to discuss school safety after news of the school shooting in Connecticut.

Anchorage School District Superintendent Jim Browder says he’s had a lot of inquires from parents about school safety since this morning’s tragedy in Connecticut. And he says he wants people to know that every school in the district has an emergency plan that’s required by state law. And that they practice them regularly.

“One of the things that our principals do is that they practice lock down drills and other type of drills to make sure that everybody in their individual schools practices emergency situations.”

A statement from Browder appears on the ASD website. In the letter he says that the district places student and staff safety as a top priority. He also notes that the district partners with the Anchorage Police Department to have school resource officers in schools. There are 16 School Resource Officers stationed at Anchorage High Schools plus two supervisors not stationed at schools. Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew says his department works closely with the district.

“Those plans cover 18-20 different scenarios including the kind of thing you saw today. The schools have School Resource Officers and we work diligently to keep ahead of indications of trouble in advance so that we can forstall tragedies when we can and to train and plan for responses.”

Chief Mew addressed why the Anchorage School district does not have metal detectors or other screening systems at front doors of buildings.

“In order to make that work you have to basically redesign the entire building because these schools were build before these considerations were important to folks. And I don’t know how many back doors they have but a high school might have 60 or 80 back doors so it doesn’t do any good at all to have a very complex, slow, methodical screening process at the front door.”

Mew worked as the districts Director of Security and emergency preparedness from 2003 to 2009, writing the district’s emergency plans and developing the school officer resource program. And automated phone message reassuring parents about school safety is going out to households in the Anchorage School District tonight.

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Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network.

Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage.

Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email.

Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.

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