SP School District prepares for crisis

Published 11:55 am Friday, February 16, 2018

SP School District prepares for crisis

The Batesville Fire Department, Batesville Police Department, Panola County Sherriff’s Department and Panola County Emergency Operations were represented earlier this month as South Panola School District officials reviewed the district’s Crisis Management Plan with the different first responders. Attending the meeting (l. to r.) David Tutor, Kerry Pittman, Robert Ales, Chris Franklin, Sheriff Dennis Darby, Tim Taylor, Chris Downs and Superintendent Tim Wilder.
Photo by Jeff Eubanks, SP School District

By Jeremy Weldon
Another school shooting this week served to remind local law enforcement agencies, and school officials in Panola County, of the need to remain ready for similar threats locally.
Here, officials believe all possible precautions are taken in daily operations of the schools, relying heavily on its Crisis Management Plan to maximize student and faculty safety in the event of an active shooter.
All law enforcement personnel in Panola County, along with every member of South Panola School District’s faculty and staff, have a copy of the CMP and are encouraged to review it regularly.
South Panola’s front man on the Crisis Management Team is David Tutor, director of the Career and Technical Education department at the high school.
Tutor, working his first full year in Batesville, said this week the Crisis Management Team meets at least twice a year and holds drills, walk-arounds, and reviews of procedures several times each school year.
The School Board reviews and adopts the CMP at the start of each school year. It becomes part of the handbook and all teachers, administrators, and staff are reminded regularly to stay familiar with the plan’s outlines and directions specific to any crisis.
Tutor said the team coordinates drills and lockdowns at the districts six campus sites, and continually tweaks the management plan as suggestions and ideas are made from officers.
“Every time something like (Florida shooting) happens, it’s a reminder that we can never be 100 percent ready for these kinds of things. But, you can always have your plan in place, practice your plan, and be as ready as possible,” Tutor said.
Tutor said that even this week he has noticed more law enforcement officers walking through around the school buildings. “It does two things,” he said. “More police presence and visibility is always good, and the officers are also familiarizing themselves with the buildings and layouts.”
The CMP also includes information and directions to both police and school district employees on other types of crisis.
“Next month is severe weather month so we will be focusing on our plans for an event that is weather related,” Tutor said.
As was evident in the Florida shooting, and other national incidents, a major problem for school and law enforcement in “active shooter” and “armed intruder” events, is communication with parents and guardians.
South Panola officials recognize the importance of giving anxious and demanding parents both accurate and timely information in such cases, Tutor said.
“Our plan address the issue of communicating with parents very well, and we know that keeping parents informed is one of the first responsibilities we have,” he said.

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