FDCSD board addresses active shooter training

‘I think a discussion between voluntary and mandatory is one we ought to have’

There could be an increased focus on staff and, eventually, student participation in active shooter drills within the Fort Dodge Community School District this school year.

Jennifer Lane, FDCSD director of communications and community relations, and Sgt. Luke Fleener, of the Webster County Sheriff’s Department, presented information relating to active shooter training during the FDCSD board meeting Monday night. No action was taken by the board.

“We have been doing the active shooter drill for about five years,” Lane said. “Our staff, districtwide, has been invited to participate. We have had staff take advantage of that each of those years, so we feel good about that.”

Fleener has led that training, called I Love U Guys.

But staff is not required to participate.

Lane estimated that about one third of the staff has attended the training sessions.

“Overall, maybe a third of them have been through it and some have been through it more than once,” Lane said. “Some have participated more than once.”

Bill Kent, vice president of the board, said there should be a discussion on making the training mandatory.

“That’s my question,” Kent said. “It’s a requirement we have training, but it’s not a requirement that all the staff participate. I know we had that conversation in the spring.”

A public forum on school safety was held at Fort Dodge Senior High in March. More than 70 community members attended that session.

The forum was held about a month after a Fort Dodge resident addressed the school board and asked that training become mandatory for every staff member.

Iowa law requires that schools conduct an active shooter drill in each building annually. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed Senate File 2364, the bill that includes those requirements, into law in April.

“The shooter drill has to be part of the emergency response,” Rob Hughes, FDCSD assistant superintendent, said. “That is mandatory that it’s offered in every building.”

Kent added, “I think a discussion between voluntary and mandatory is one we ought to have.”

Lane said the district would be discussing specific training opportunities in the coming weeks.

“Moving forward, with the new state law that was put in place, we will be diving probably a little deeper into our crisis plan as far as what those actions look like and we will be going into each of our school buildings and doing some training with staff during the next year,” Lane said. “That training could take several different forms. It could be a table top exercise where we put the scenario out that there is a fire in the building. It could be that we do a mock entry training or mock reunification training.”

She added, “About each month throughout the school year, to get all of the buildings in, we will be doing training somewhere.”

Jesse Ulrich, FDCSD superintendent, said another aspect to the training is involving students.

“Staff is one thing,” he said. “We don’t think that will be the issue. The issue is at what point do you utilize students in the training and that’s a whole different discussion.”

Fleener said it will be important to inform parents about the training.

“I think if the day comes to include students, I think parents need an opportunity to be educated on what this is about,” Fleener said. “It’s not a scare thing, it’s about education.”

A community safety committee, which includes all school districts in Fort Dodge and area first responders, formed about six years ago.

“We meet monthly to quarterly, depending on the year and varying topics,” Lane said. “We may talk about something in the news or another safety or security issue. We may also plan a training for our group or for each of the buildings.”

She added, “It has allowed us to develop strong relationships, so if we are ever in a situation, we are going to know the faces and the people we are working with and not be just thrown into that not knowing the people working side by side with us.”

Fleener said he welcomes people who have questions.

“From my spot, I think it’s good people are having these conversations because our world is showing us this continues to happen,” he said.