With the opening of one new campus and the renovation of two others, the Aledo Independent School District is taking additional steps to insure student safety.
The new McAnally Middle School and the new additions to Aledo Middle School and Vandagriff Elementary School include tornado shelters with 12” concrete walls among other features.
Aledo ISD has in the past and is again this year training law enforcement on how to handle school intruders.
On Friday, Aug. 5, the Aledo ISD Police Department, along with Parker County Constables, state troopers, DFW Police, and Fort Worth Police Department, conducted drills at the Don Daniel Ninth Grade Campus with different scenarios on how to handle intruders.
In what has been referred to as “active shooter training,” Aledo ISD Police Chief Fred Collie said another term might be more accurate.
“An even better descriptor is active threat training, because it might not just be a shooter, it could be some other dangerous threat,” Collie said.
When asked what he wanted trainees to take away from the training, Collie did not hesitate.
“The most important thing is that when there's a threat, you immediately go to the threat and address the threat,” Collie said. “You don't wait on backup, and you don't go and gather additional tools. You go to the threat. There's no waiting. If you wait 10 seconds for somebody else to get there, you’ve waited 10 seconds too long. That's the most important thing a responder on a school campus can do.”
One of the training scenarios was based on an actual event a few years ago in another school district in which a disgruntled spouse got on campus and caused harm to his spouse.
The bottom line, according to Collie, is “when somebody who’s not supposed to be in that school, threatening either a student or a staff member within the school, then we send people, we train people to address that particular threat.”
Another architectural feature of the new and renovated construction is police presence right up in the front of the building adjacent to the main office.
“That's actually a best practice in constructing schools, that the police officers’ office is up near the front, preferably where they have a good view of the people coming and going,” Collie said. “But we also have to know sometimes we're working in an older school, and that's not possible.”
Collie said the goal is not to have a constant presence in the office, however.
“If they're spending all their time in their office, they're not doing their job,” Collie said. “They need to be out walking around the schools, and checking doors, establishing relationships with kids and not just sitting in their office watching cameras or watching people come and go.”
Another security feature in the new construction is additional security in the school office area. The three campuses have a conference room and restroom adjacent to the front office that can be used for parent-teacher conferences without gaining access to the administrative offices of the school.
There are lots of interior windows in the new construction, and all are fitted with shades so that, in the event of an intruder, the intruder would not know if a given room was occupied.
“If there's an intruder in the school, we go to a lockout,” Collie said. “We want to make sure the windows are covered, make sure that the intruder can't see into the classroom. If the intruder can't see in the classroom, they don't know if anybody's in there. Hopefully they continue on someplace else and give us more of a time barrier because what we're looking for is a time barrier so we get first responders there to interact with the intruder and make sure that the appropriate actions are taken.”
While the tragic events in Uvalde are fresh on peoples’ minds, Collie said Aledo ISD has been safety minded for quite some time.
“People are rightfully concerned with the safety of their children. And people in Aledo ISD need to know that our administration, our trustees, our staff, are committed to the safety of their children,” Collie said. “And we didn't just take up safety after the tragedy in Uvalde. We've been running a safe school district, and we're just going to continue to improve on on our safety measures.”
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