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Prayers for Florida, safety at school


By Principal Joe Brettnacher, Ph.D.

By now we all know about the tragedy that unfolded on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. A gunman began shooting just before dismissal, killing 17 and injuring 15 at the school. 

Like everyone, I’m heartbroken about this tragedy, and my prayers are with the victims and the families. As the principal of Scecina, this tragedy reinforces for me the importance of keeping your children safe. I want to assure our families that our school has a safety committee that meets monthly and an emergency operations plan. All faculty are required to take Armed Intruder Training. From day one, safety has been a top priority of mine. 

I put together a safety committee of more than 20 members. The liaison police officers assigned to our school by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) are members of the committee. I have assigned members of our safety committee to one of four teams: Prevention & Mitigation, Protection, Response, and Recovery. The definitions for prevention, mitigation, protection, response, and recovery follow. 

Prevention means the capabilities necessary to avoid, deter, or stop an imminent crime or threatened or actual mass casualty incident. 

Mitigation means the capabilities necessary to eliminate or reduce the loss of life and property damage by lessening the impact of an event or emergency. 

Protection means the capabilities to secure schools against acts of violence and human-made or natural disasters. 

Response means the capabilities necessary to stabilize an emergency once it has already happened or is certain to happen in an unpreventable way. 

Recovery means the capabilities necessary to assist schools affected by an event or emergency in restoring the learning environment. 

I believe it is critical to have an active safety committee. 

Scecina has a comprehensive emergency operations plan. A big part of the plan is our organizational chart that specifies the roles and responsibilities of our faculty and staff when and if an emergency occurs. Each faculty and staff member has a flip chart with the protocols for various types of emergencies. Over the course of the year, we conduct drills with our students, faculty, and staff. At each faculty meeting, I review various protocols and give everyone an opportunity to talk about them, ask questions, and make suggestions. At the start of each school year, I provide our faculty and staff with emergency operation plan training. Should an incident occur, the school has an evacuation site for students and a gathering place for parents. I want to assure you that I am committed to continuous school safety, as are all members of our faculty and staff. 

All faculty and staff are required to take Armed Intruder Training. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis requires this. Each year everyone must view the IMPD’s refresher course to stay up to date on the latest protocols on how to respond to an armed intruder. Know that I am committed to ensuring everyone gets the safety training they need to keep our school safe and secure. 

Once again, I want to ensure you that a safe and secure school is a top priority of mine. 

Joe Brettnacher, Ph.D. 

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