11:57 PM EST, December 14, 2012
Indiana educators and administrators are reviewing security plans and reassuring parents in the wake of the school shooting in Connecticut.
"What happened today was unfortunate but not uncommon," said Dr. Robert Taylor, superintendent for Lebanon schools.
As news of the shooting in a Connecticut elementary school made it's way to Indiana, Taylor said he immediately contacted his school administrators and sent out social media alerts to reassure parents of what they do to keep kids safe.
"The times have changed dramatically," Taylor said. "It's now incumbent upon us to ensure that we respond to those changes."
Schools across the state have practiced active shooter drills over the past few years in order to help prepare for the unthinkable. Every Indiana school is required to have an emergency plan, and certified school safety specialists trained by the state. However, funding for the programs is shrinking and educators still rely on local law enforcement in the case of emergences.
"We are not law enforcement," Taylor said. "We are not fire, EMT, we are not first responders, we are committed public educators, and so truly what we want to do is work in conjunction with those individuals that are the trained experts."
Evacuation plans like the one carried out in Connecticut, are part of the training for schools, with teachers and law enforcement working together to usher kids out of harms way once they get clearance. Prior to evacuation many districts like IPS regularly practice classroom lockdowns.
"The children are taught to remain calm, they are told to go underneath their desks, the door is shut," said IPS spokesperson John Althardt. "Also the lights are turned off… if there are exterior windows, those drapes will be shut."
Preventative measures like surveillance cameras and secure entrance policies are also common but vary depending on resources at each school.
At IPS, school police are another defense. Officers carry weapons and have specialized training. Still, administrators know this latest shooting shows how, despite existing security there is still a lot to learn.
"We all have the opportunity to look and to review what we do. Are there things that we can do better?" Althardt said.