School safety recommendations redacted

April 25, 2013 8:19:26 PM PDT
School shooting drills have been going on for years, but they are especially important in the wake of the Newtown school massacre.

Officials use what they learn from the exercises to better react in a worst-case scenario, but what they don't do, is share their results with parents.

The ABC11 I-Team found out there is a fine line between public safety, and the public's right to know.

A few years ago there was an active shooter drill at two Raleigh schools on Dillard Drive.

A breakdown of what went right, and what went wrong during that drill was issued. However, you'll learn next nothing about the "what went wrong" part because it's all blacked out.

So, why is it blacked out?

"Emergency plans are protected under North Carolina general statute from public record requests," said Wake County Public Schools Security Director Russ Smith.

Smith was there for the drill, and the decision to redact just about everything in the review.

"In reference to the procedures, those are the areas we need to make sure are not disseminated to the public," said Smith.

Why?  It's so the bad guys don't get good Intel. It's as simple as that. Intel like areas for improvement. The major recommendations are all blacked out.

So, should parents be able to know the results of safety drills?

"It is our stance that this is not a public record," said Smith.

We asked parents how they feel about being kept in the dark, and opinions ran the gamut.

"Seems like they did good in certain areas, but if they're not willing to show us what they need to work on, there's a problem there," said parent Brad McGowan.

"I would somehow want to know that improvements and initiatives were being taken to be made to fix the problem, but I'm OK not knowing every single area of improvement for bad people to know all that information," said parent Leanne Ormsby.

"But if they're not showing it to us, how do we know they're really doing it," asked McGowan.

We put that very question to Smith.

"Safety and security of our kids is our top priority," said Smith. "Parents are going to have to have a level of trust in reference to that."

You can find general information about school security online. You just have to go to the Wake School System's website, click here and here, and there it is. We found basic lockdown information and a couple other things. However, according to Smith, this is all you're going to get, and all you should get.

"We don't mind sharing the general information," said Smith. "It's the intricate details of the emergency operations plans, as well as this after action review that points out areas of our strengths as well as areas that we can improve upon, that would be protected."

Even though the drill at Dillard Drive was done two years ago, long before the shooting at Sandy Hook and the recent push in North Carolina to make schools safer, Smith said the breakdown of that drill still needs protection.

"It's very relevant," said Smith. "And as far as the information that's in it, it's still important to protect it and not give it to the public because it still contains procedures that are in place."

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