school safety

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

Nobody is keeping track of how many schools in Oklahoma have armed teachers, yet legislators want to reduce requirements for school personnel armed in classrooms. StateImpact’s Robby Korth went to Sterling, Oklahoma to see why some rural schools want to ease regulations.

The morning after the Feb. 14, 2018, school shooting in Parkland, Fla., a middle school teacher in nearby Miami stood in front of his speech and debate class and had no idea what to say.

"It's a powerful thing when 13-year-olds and 14-year-olds are looking up to you for an answer to something that you don't have an answer for," said Kelsey Major, a teacher at Everglades K-8 Center, a public school about 50 miles south of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people had been killed in the shooting.

"In speech and debate, I was speechless," he said.

Ryan Pascal, a 17-year-old student at Palos Verdes High School near Los Angeles, says when her school holds active shooter drills, it's "chaos." The first time it happened, not long after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in 2018, rumors started flying over Snapchat and text that the school was really under attack.

"We had some students trying to stack up desks to blockade the door. We had some students sort of joking around because they weren't sure how to handle this. There are other students who are very, very afraid."

With more mass shootings happening every year, protecting kids has become a priority for school administrators in Oklahoma. However, safety looks very different depending on each school district’s budget.

As the nation's eyes were on Broward County, Florida, for a flawed, week long election recount, a state commission a few miles away was investigating the county government's role in the Feb. 14 massacre at a Parkland high school. It found that failed leadership, inconsistent or unenforced policies, and misinformation contributed to the 17 deaths.

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Two months ago today, a shooter killed 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

After the tragedy, threats to schools across the country rose.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Police Sgt. Jeff Crawford is breaking his routine. He’s leaving the office and climbing into his squad car because Oklahoma City Public Schools teachers and supporters are rallying at the state Capitol to demand more school funding.

Crawford is a school resource officer who normally works out of Douglass Mid-High School. He has left his post temporarily to check on elementary schools and community centers in eastern Oklahoma City that are feeding kids who depend on the meals they get in school.

AAA Oklahoma is helping kids get to and from school through its School Safety Patrol Program.

Spokesman Chuck Mai says in Oklahoma the organization spends 15 to 20-thousand dollars a year to equip the oldest grade level students in more than 240 elementary schools.

"The Sam Browne belts that you see the kids wear over the shoulder around the waists. Badges: We have sergeant, lieutenant and captains, as well as patrol badges. Also the literature. The care and consent cards. The membership cards."