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State schools superintendent asks Oklahoma school boards to review safety policies

State schools Superintendent Janet Barresi said she is encouraging all school boards in the state to evaluate their safety plans after the school shooting in Connecticut last week.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL ccoppernoll@opubco.com Published: December 20, 2012
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The state's top educator is asking school boards across Oklahoma to double-check safety procedures in light of the Connecticut school massacre.

State schools Superintendent Janet Barresi is asking each school board in the state “to review their policies to make sure they are up-to-date and focused on student safety.”

State law requires school districts to have written crisis plans, though the law doesn't specify that the plans address intruders. District officials must review the plans each year and update them if necessary.

Each district must conduct two lockdown drills each year — one in the fall and one in the spring. They can't be done during the same time of day.

State Education Department regional accreditation officers check to make sure districts are in compliance.

Questions have arisen about whether all Oklahoma schools should have a uniform safety plan, but Barresi said that isn't a good idea. Each district should create a plan that is best for its location and population.

“This is a situation to where it needs to be dealt with in each district,” Barresi said. “With the unique geography in the state of Oklahoma, we have some districts that are very proximal to first responders and we have other districts that are quite remote.”

Barresi made her comments Wednesday during a state Board of Education meeting.

The Connecticut school shooting is a reminder for school employees, parents and the community to work together, Barresi said.

“There's a lot of concern out there,” she said, “and we will do everything we can to support districts.”