Branford Board of Education chairman Michael Krause publicly took responsibility this month for a failure by the Branford schools system to hold regular safety drills as mandated by the state.
“I am going to take ownership that I and the Board were not overseeing the number of drills, etc. in our schools,” he told the Board. “It has not been a practice in our school district for years since drills are handled by the administration, but yes, we should be monitoring and going forward this will be done.”
Krause stated that he and superintendent Hamlet Hernandez have met on the issue, and going forward, the superintendent will give a monthly update on drills that have been done, and an annual spreadsheet on drills performed by each school. In addition, security guards added added Walsh and a vacant position at the high school will be filled. Krause stated he has met with police on the integrated video surveillance systems, and a new application will allow real time dissemination of information.
Krause also stated that the district is looking at potential redesign of the front corridors at the high school an Indian Neck School, and is looking at new door locks.
Safety in the schools became front and center after the Parkland shooting in Florida. Parents asked at meeting why so few safety drills had been performed; many parents posted on social media that their children stated there were few drills performed.
Documents confirmed the claims and concerns of parents.
In a spreadsheet detailing the drills by school provide by the Superintendents office, it is clear many months are incomplete, and actual drills taking place is hit-or-miss. As recent as January of this year, none of the Branford schools recorded any drills. In February and March, 4 of the 5 schools listed had drills.
According to state law, a fire drill is mandated to take place monthly in each school. Once every three months, the fire drills can be replaced with a crisis response drill.
The law also states that Board of Education shall establish a school security and safety committee at each school and this would include various professionals and includes parents.
Hernandez has stated that each school does have a safety committee sometimes including parents, and that it is not considered a public body.
Krause stated that the district has sent a new safety plan to the state for feedback, and is waiting for a reply.