Teacher: DOE hasn't prepared schools for potential major emergencies

Teacher wants DOE to do more to protect students
Updated: Feb. 18, 2018 at 10:51 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After the deadly Florida school shooting and several threats towards Oahu schools, one teacher hopes the DOE will do more to prevent a tragedy in the islands.

Christine Russo is a science teacher at Campbell High School. She's concerned that proper protocols are not in place for teachers and students to handle a major emergency.

"We have never done an active shooter drill. We've done lockdown drills, but nothing that goes really beyond the scope of having kids in the classroom, lock the door, cover the windows, very routine," Russo said.

In a letter to parents after the recent threats, the state Department of Education says all schools are required to have a safety plan and conduct emergency preparedness drills.

The DOE also says it partners with police departments for active shooter drills, but Russo says what they have done to this point is not enough.

"We're lucky that we haven't had anything like that happen here, but it doesn't mean you don't prepare. And the prevalence of the threats that have been going on locally is just a reminder why we take these measures seriously," Russo added.

The DOE also said they take all threats seriously and increase security on campuses in days after threats are made.

Currently, teachers would call security or an administrator in an emergency, but they're not always available.

Russo also says classroom phones have an emergency button to alert administrators, but not all faculty members are aware of this.

Besides emergency training, Russo says teachers and students also need to learn how to recognize and report suspicious behaviors.

"We don't want our lives to be taken before our lives start," Campbell High School senior Asianna Saragosa said. "It's sad that it has to come down to that sometimes, and there's not really anything we can do about it, but we can try to start somewhere with the procedures and all of that."

Russo has taken her concerns to the legislature.

A bill introduced this year would require interior locks for all classroom doors by 2019, and an intercom system by 2020.

The next hearing for that bill is scheduled for Wednesday.

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