Local News

Report: School Safety Plans Lacking

Posted June 13, 2007 1:19 p.m. EDT
Updated June 13, 2007 3:15 p.m. EDT

— School districts nationwide lack the equipment and training to implement safety plans in the event of an emergency, according to a federal report released Wednesday.

The Government Accountability Office study looked at school districts nationwide, including the school systems in Wake, Durham, Chatham, Lee and Granville counties. It found that most school districts are developing emergency procedures to cover a range of hazards, but many of the plans don't meet federally recommended practices.

Also, school districts might be missing out on federal funding for their emergency plans, according to the study, which was requested by 2nd District U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge.

"Schools are in the business of educating children, but they're also about providing safety," said Etheridge, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Close to two-thirds of districts lack the proper equipment and trained staff to handle an emergency, the report said. For example, 56 percent of the districts surveyed have no plan for holding classes in the event of extended school closures, and many districts don't train with local first responders.

"You can't have homeland security without hometown security," Etheridge said, proposing a deputy director of the Department of Homeland Security to better coordinate schools' planning and response to emergencies. "At the end of the day, everyone's going to be involved in this process."