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North Judson schools working to keep all students safe from active shooters

NORTH JUDSON, Ind. - Since the Parkland shooting, the conversation about keeping students safe has continued to pick up speed. Now, some parents of special needs students want to make sure their kids are included in their district's emergency plans.

The Government Accountability Office published a report in 2016 about emergency preparedness in school districts, in which they discovered that two-thirds of school districts in the country perform active shooter drills.

North Judson-San Pierre is not one of them currently, but the superintendent says they just had a county-wide meeting to start changing that.

She says the key is striking a balance between preparation and panic.

A mom of multiple special needs students says particularly for kids like hers, preparation could actually prevent panic.

“The best thing that we can do is be proactive," said Brandie Burns, the mother of four students at North Judson-San Pierre Schools.

Right now, she and her son think the district has a little catching up to do.

“We do not have active shooter drills at our school...and it kind of makes you uneasy knowing that you don’t really know for sure where you should go in case of an emergency like that," said her son Domonique Burns.

Domonique is bi-polar, so he said with his meds, he'll be fine.

What he and his mom are really concerned about it are his two brothers with autism, River and Aidan.

“We have a 13-year-old that has wandered out of the classroom to use the restroom and instead gone to his locker, and he normally requires an aide in a classroom, so...making sure he knows where to go," said Brandie.

“We even asked one of our older sons with autism what he would do, and his reaction was I would stop him," she said.

She says that's not the response a parent wants to hear.

“The best thing that we can do right now is to make them aware of the situation and to drill. When it comes to those in the special needs community, repetition is key, and we need to discuss those things in a calm and safe environment before they occur for the best possible outcome," she said.

“I would feel safer if I knew that the school that I was attending had proper measurements in place," said Domonique.

The mother of four says she does appreciate how well the school has always worked with her and her sons.

Still, she has a few suggestions for prepping schools to keep all students safe:

  • Visual and audio alarms for hearing or seeing-impaired
  • Emergency hand signals
  • Medical alert bracelets

Brandie runs a Facebook page for families with special needs students in Starke County, so to check it out, click here.


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