Superintendent explains reason behind lockdown drill - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Superintendent explains reason behind lockdown drill

(Source: Dr. Larry Bennett) (Source: Dr. Larry Bennett)
(Source: KAIT) (Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT) (Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT) (Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT) (Source: KAIT)
NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) -

After a student was arrested for threatening graffiti on a Newport High School bathroom stall, the superintendent is speaking out about why a school lockdown was issued.

“The message basically said ‘my boyfriend will shoot up the school’ so we soon alerted police and they came immediately,” said Dr. Larry Bennett, superintendent. “They investigated and decided that there was no imminent danger to the students or staff.”

Bennett said that’s when he saw an opportunity to practice school safety.

“Since the police were already on campus, I wanted to do a lockdown drill to go through the process and learn where we needed to improve,” said Bennett. “That’s why I alerted parents.”

Bennett said, unfortunately, the drill got blown out of proportion.

“In this day and time, social media can stretch things and that’s what happened,” said Bennett. “People were saying this and that and how they don’t trust me, which is ok because that is their opinion.”

Bennett said the drill was issued vaguely because it was only a drill.

“They started saying I’m hiding information but whether I’m hiding it or not, I want to make sure the investigation is protected,” said Bennett. “People will then take to social media about details that they don’t even know and before you know it, it creates problems for the investigation.”

However, Bennett said they have a different procedure if there was real danger going on in the school.

“Had this been a real serious situation, a strict lockdown would have been issued and it would have been very hard to get into the building,” said Bennett. “We are no different than any other school.”

Bennett said they are always constantly training for these types of situations.

“We go through a lot of training,” said Bennett. “Our school resource officer goes through training and we have shooter training and we plan to go to a threat assessment in mid-February. We are going to do everything in our power to protect these students.”

Bennett said during the investigation of the graffiti, their security cameras located a suspect responsible for the note. That student was arrested Friday, Bennett said.

He said anytime a lockdown drill happens, he understands people’s concerns.

“I get that,” said Bennett. “I am happy they are concerned but I would be too. We are not playing about this. Certainly, I am not perfect but people blow things up. Whatever their trust issues are is their own deal. We don’t play games with people’s lives.”

The stall has since been cleaned but the 16-year-old student may face even more consequences.

“I will recommend expulsion for that student,” said Bennett. “Unfortunately, she made a poor decision but we will not tolerate this type of actions.”

In the end, Bennett said practicing safety drill will continue for the sake of protecting their district. He said if it is a real lockdown, the right alerts will go out notifying every that this is not a drill.  

“We will continue to practice our drills,” said Bennett. “We will continue to study school safety and we want our student body to understand. This is your school. If you hear things, you need to share with us so we can make sure everyone is safe.

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