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Joplin Schools Safety Audit Happens During Florida School Shooti - KOAM TV 7

Joplin Schools Safety Audit Happens During Florida School Shooting, Aftermath

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Joplin, MO -

Buildings in the Joplin School District go through a safety audit every two years.  District officials say it's a sad coincidence that one of those audits is happening during the school shooting aftermath in Florida.

"As a parent, I don't know how the parents down there are dealing with that, or anywhere this happens," says Dr. Kerry Sachetta, Joplin School District Superintendent of Operations.

Sachetta talks to us in the same building where in 2006, a young teen student fired a rifle.  No one was injured in what was then Memorial Middle School.

"The mental health of our students...we're all struggling with that.  All of our schools," says Sachetta.  "I think we have a lot more kids who are facing a lot more challenges when it comes to mental health compared to when we grew up.  We have to recognize that."

Jim Hounschell, Joplin School District's Director of Safety and Security, asks, "Is it enough?"

Hounschell tries to make sure the physical safety of Joplin students and staff is enough.

"Doors, windows, alarms, the grounds, fencing, gates," says Hounschell.

High shrubs could be obstructions during emergencies.

The Joplin School District, and other school districts, have recently changed how students and staff act during intruder drills.  Old rules called for locking doors, staying away from windows, and keeping quiet.

"Sometimes, you're just sitting ducks.  If they can, get out and get away from the danger.  That's what we encourage them to do," says Hounschell.

A last option being taught is trying to take down the intruder.

"If everybody who's a decision maker can think of themselves as a parent..." says Sachetta.

...Being the parent to notice and get help for someone, trying to prevent school shootings in the first place.  But Sachetta knows reality still points to education...and safety...continuing to evolve in schools.

Hounschell says there can always be safety improvements, and recommendations are always made to other district officials at the end of audits.  Armed security personnel are at Joplin's high school and middle schools.

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