Proos: School lockdown drills save lives

LANSING— Sen. John Proos has introduced a resolution encouraging all Michigan K-12 schools to conduct at least two lockdown drills per school year, as required under state law and a bill that would penalize schools that fail to comply with law.

“This is about ensuring that every Michigan school is doing their duty to protect our students by practicing school lockdown drills,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “This preparation can save lives, as illustrated by the commendable actions of Dowagiac Middle School personnel and local law enforcement officials last week. Due to the school’s planning and repeated practice of safety drills, officials were able to respond quickly and effectively, maintain control over the situation and protect the students from harm.”

On June 3, an attentive school staff member spotted a 13-year-old former student carrying a gun outside of the school and notified the principal, who bravely attempted to speak to the young man. School buses were diverted away from the school, walking students were intercepted before they reached the area and law enforcement officers established a perimeter around the school building and maintained safety, order and communication.

“Sadly, the young man eventually shot himself in the adjacent woods and succumbed to his injuries at an area hospital,” Proos said. “It was a sorrowful day in Southwest Michigan, and I strongly believe that the school’s readiness for this situation played a key role in preventing a larger tragedy. Unfortunately, despite the drills being required by law since 2006, not all Michigan’s schools are taking these critical steps.”

A recent MLive study examined 54 Michigan public school buildings and found that nine of them failed to perform or document the two mandatory lockdown drills.

Proos’ legislation would penalize school districts with a reduction of 5 percent of a school district’s total eligible funds if it fails to conduct and report the two emergency drills required in the fire prevention code. The funds would be held in escrow until the school district fulfills its legal responsibilities.

“As a father, I am deeply disturbed that any school would fail to meet the requirements designed to help protect our students and staff,” Proos said. “When it comes to the safety of our kids, there is no excuse for falling short of your responsibilities.”

Video comments by Proos are available by clicking here.