Students at Marshall County High School, where multiple students were shot Tuesday by a classmate, had recently been trained in how to react in case they were faced with an active shooter, Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rick Sanders said.
“Students at that school did exactly as they were trained,” Sanders said. “The Kentucky State Police has been in this area recently teaching students and faculty how to respond to an active shooter situation. Everybody in that high school reacted appropriately.”
There was a school law enforcement or resource officer at Marshall County when the shooting occurred, officials said.
“They have been very active in accessing the services of the Kentucky Center for School Safety for any kind of additional assistance and evaluations of their programs,” said center executive director Jon Akers. The center, based at Eastern Kentucky University at Richmond, focuses on training, resources, information and research.
The shooting at Marshall County High School Tuesday morning, in which at least two of the victims — both 15— were reported dead and a 15-year-old shooter in custody, was not Kentucky’s first.
A shooting occurred at Heath High School in West Paducah on Dec. 1, 1997. Fourteen-year-old Michael Carneal opened fire on a group of students who were praying, Three were killed and five were injured.
Heath High School and Marshall County High School are slightly more than 30 miles from each other in Western Kentucky.
In January 1993, at East Carter High School in Grayson, 17-year-old Scott Pennington fatally shot teacher Deanna McDavid and head custodian Marvin Hicks.
In 2014, a teenage gunman shot a student at Fern Creek High School in Louisville, but that injury was not life-threatening.
Akers said since the 1990s, a law has been passed mandating that all schools have emergency operating plans that are reviewed annually by school officials, It is recommended that first responders also review the plans. Schools must have four emergency responder drills for various situations ranging from weather to lockdowns in the first 30 days of school and again in the second semester. Some Kentucky schools have full scale drills for an active shooter situation, Akers said.
Information on the center website said that schools have to control access to the building, controlling the front entrance of the school electronically or with a greeter, and requiring that all visitors report to the front office of the building and provide valid identification, state the purpose of the visit; and schools provide a visitor's badge to be visibly displayed.
Additionally the Center for School Safety examines school buildings for safety measures and the school climate and culture for whether rules are followed and whether emergency management response drills are conducted.
Marshall County High School’s website said the school had a Safe Schools Tip Line, a program that allows students to text a message to school administrators and School Resource Officers anonymously, sharing information about potential problems at school, concern over a classmate’s behavior or reporting suspicious behavior they may have observed.
In terms of statewide school safety, Akers said he is often asked why an individual Kentucky public school doesn’t have metal detectors.
“Metal detectors are not fool-proof,” said Akers. Contraband, including weapons, can be brought in through means other than the front door of the school, he said.
Fayette County Public Schools officials studied the possibility of installing metal detectors. But they said in October that it wasn’t feasible or desirable to have hundreds of students each day passing through metal detectors.