Hancock school board discusses potential policy changes: Planning for an armed intruder

HANCOCK – It’s a sad fact of 21st century life that school officials have to plan for the possibility of a violent person entering school property, but officials with the Hancock Public Schools are continuing to adjust their policies for just such an incident.

At the work session for the Hancock Public School Board of Education Monday, Gordon G. Barkell Elementary School Principal Howard Parmentier told members he recently talked with the emergency coordinator at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University about their policy for locking down the campus in case of an armed or otherwise violent intruder.

“It was discovered we were about a year out of date with our policy,” he said.

After talking with the representative at Virginia Tech, Parmentier said he talked to Jack Dueweke, emergency measures coordinator for Houghton and Keweenaw counties about how to deal with a situation, which may require a lockdown of the school.

Parmentier said the policy of where students and staff should go in the event of an armed intruder has changed. They now will go to more easily controlled parts of the building, and they have worked out a plan for students to go to nearby Portage Health if they are able to leave the school building.

There are now walkie talkies in every room in case the school public address system can’t be used during an incident, Parmentier said.

Superintendent Monica Healy said the policy for an armed or violent intruder was updated at the middle and high schools two years ago, but they will have to be examined again.

“Those policies are already out of date,” she said.

She will meet with Dueweke, also, soon to possibly adjust the lock down policy for the middle and high schools, Healy said.

Board Secretary Chris Heikkinen asked Healy if the classroom doors are adequate to keep out an intruder, and she said they are.

“I have not heard that ours are not good,” she said.

In other business, the board members:

received from Healy the latest schedule of payments for the district deficit elimination plan.

“We are on target to be out of deficit by (the 2014-15 school year),” she said. “It’s not going to be easy.”

accepted the resignation of Paraprofessional Aide Josh Frantti, who got another job.