School district looks to update safety policies

Is going into a lockdown the best scenario for schools when there is an active shooter present?

Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper said in most cases it isn’t.

Tupper addressed the Marshalltown School Board about school safety during a meeting Monday and school leaders recently participated in ALICE training to learn more about how to react to active shooters in buildings. ALICE stands for Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate. Tupper said evacuation, not locking the school down, can be an effective option in these situations.

“In most cases, we can get out and we need to get out,” Tupper said.

The school district is looking into updating its response plans, including looking at its policy of locking down the schools in emergency situations. Marshalltown High School Associate Principal Deb Holsapple has been heavily involved in the training. She said when she was in a lockdown in a training session she felt like a “sitting duck” for a possible shooter.

“Why have we done this for so long?” Holsapple said.

Tupper is a big advocate of this school response training and said schools do drills often for fire and tornados, but they should look into having a violent intruder drill as well. He said the last child that died as a result of a fire in a school in the United States was in 1958 and the last one killed as a result of a tornado at a school in the U.S. was in 1978.

“How often are we practicing our violent intruder drills?” Tupper said. “We’re not and maybe we need to.”

In other action, the board accepted a donation of $30,000 from Marshalltown Medical & Surgical Center to be used for a biomedical sciences lab at MHS as part of the new Project Lead the Way curriculum.

The board also recognized MHS senior Pedro Gomez for his recent state championship in wrestling. Gomez said he was honored to represent Marshalltown at state and is still enjoying his championship.

“There’s no greater feeling in the world,” Gomez said.

The next regular meeting of the school board will be at 5 p.m March 18 at district offices.