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State Board of Education Says Oklahoma Schools Must Be Better Prepared for Shootings, Other Threats

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The Oklahoma State Board of Education is dissatisfied with school security.

With the high school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, top of mind, the board heard a presentation at its meeting Thursday about school security plans. Board member Leo Baxter pointed out there are no requirements for security equipment at Oklahoma schools and no guidance for the security drills they must run.

"You have metal detectors? No. You don’t have metal detectors. Well, god dang, you know, metal detector will — so, I just don’t think we’re looking at the right stuff. We’re saying, ‘Alright, you guys have to do this and we’re going to check it four times a year,’ but they don’t know what to do," Baxter said.

State law says schools must conduct four security drills a year to prepare for threats like an active shooter. Each must be at a different time of day and schools can’t hold more than two per semester, but there are no further requirements. Board member Daniel Keating said that’s not enough.

"I would like to see, you know, minimum standards for all the schools, you know, and if it is locking the doors — and it may well be locking the doors — the teacher should be able to lock the door," Keating said.

Baxter said and other board members indicated they'd like state lawmakers to take up school security standards. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said there must be more to school security than drills and metal detectors.

"There’s levels of preparation, but you can look at Santa Fe and know that in four minutes time, [10] people were dead. And from everything I have heard, they did everything correctly in terms of the drills, the plans, the work," Hofmeister said.

In addition to four security drills, public schools must hold two fire drills, two tornado drills and two other safety drills a year.