FOX19 looks at safety measures taken in Tri-State schools

FOX19 - Following Friday's shooting in Newtown, many parents have questioned what safety measures are being taken in Tri-state schools. FOX19 reached out to school safety experts to find the questions all parents should be asking.

In Kentucky, the Center for School Safety performs dozens of free safety assessments at schools across the state each year. Conner High School in Hebron had one just last March.

"I have really not come across any school in this state that does not have some kind of emergency plan in place," Lucy Riffle told FOX19. "Some of them need to be more updated than others but they all do have them."

As a former high school principal in Northern Kentucky and KCSS safe school associate, Riffle understands the importance of school safety.

She says there are four questions any parent can ask to help gauge safety at their kids' schools:

  1. Are there emergency plans in place?
  2. Are those plans updated every year?
  3. Do they train faculty and staff?
  4. Do they practice the drills with students?

Riffle says do not expect the school to hand safety plans over.

"If a parent knows then a possible bad guy could find out too," she explained.

Riffle added that all staff, beyond just teachers, should be trained on the safety protocol.

"One way parents could know whether or not they have emergency plans is to talk to their children. Asking them if they've done a lockdown drill," Riffle suggested.

In Kentucky, all schools are required by law to practice at least one lockdown drill every year.

"Another thing is just for parents to be observant when they're going to the schools. Are their doors locked? Are they asked who they are when they're trying to get into the schools? A lot of times schools are faced with the problem of parents complaining about that and they must remember that these procedures are in place for their protection," Riffle explained.

Riffle says parents in Kentucky can also ask their school if they have received an assessment from KCSS in recent years. The free reports survey students and parents, assess preventative measures being taken, and review potential infrastructure issues.

Riffle is not aware of any requirement to send safety reports to the state like Ohio's Attorney General has required.

"I would rather see those resources spent on the schools themselves instead of over some bureaucracy," Riffle said.

According to KCSS director Jon Akers, since 2009 Kentucky's school safety funding has been cut by nearly 60 percent. He says that was money that went for everything from funding school resources officers, to infrastructure improvements, and alternative education.

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