The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

March 7, 2013

Conneaut parents will get first look at school district's defense plan

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — Parents and guardians in Conneaut will be introduced this month to the Conneaut Area City Schools’ plan to deal with an armed intruder, officials said.

Beginning March 21, training in the ALICE (short for alert-lockdown-inform-counter-evacuate) program the district adopted nearly two years ago will be held at each of the district’s four schools. Each session starts at 6 p.m. and will be held in the buildings’ cafeterias.

Here’s the schedule:

• March 21 — Conneaut Middle School

• March 25 — Gateway Elementary School

• March 26 — Lakeshore Primary School

• March 27 — Conneaut High School

ALICE is a joint effort of the district and city safety forces. School personnel, police officers and firefighters comprise the ALICE training team. School staff have already been coached and now parents will be offered a condensed version, said Superintendent Kent Houston.

Training for students will be held later this school year, officials have said.

The parent sessions should run about 45 minutes and feature appearances by the ALICE team, Houston said. “It’s more of a parental-level introduction,” he said Wednesday.

During the event, officials will tell parents their roles during an intruder incident also dispel rumors about the ALICE philosophy. The biggest fib is ALICE encourages students to confront — even attack — a gunman with their bare hands, Houston said.

“That’s blatantly false,” he said.

Instead, the ALICE method emphasizes getting out of a building and running to a designated safe spot when possible, Houston said. If escape isn’t possible, students and staff can choose other options, he said.

A notice to parents about the training spells out the program in greater detail:

“This procedure is based on person choice,” according to the notice. “It is this choice that could be the greatest factor in surviving an active shooter situation.”

Conneaut was an early adoptee of the ALICE program in northeast Ohio. Parents versed in the program are pleased its in place, Houston said.

“They’re happy we’ve been proactive,” he said.

Houston is expecting a good crowd for each of the training sessions. “We hope the safety of their students will be a priority of parents,” he said.