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Schools use escape to evaluate and improve procedures, communication

The Lamar County school system used last week’s escape by a state prisoner from a work crew here to work on the processes used leading up to and during lockdowns. Eric Kenneth Coe walked away from the work detail after schools were out. Though he was not thought to be violent, the decision was made to go into lockdown status though the vast majority of students were gone for the day. ’We do a threat assessment of every emergency and work to ensure the safety of our students at all times. Last week’s event was unusual in that it occurred after dismissal. Our lockdown only affected after school functions like practice, meetings etc.,’ superintendent Jute Wilson said. Wilson noted Lamar schools are fortunate in that city and county school resource officers are assigned to school buildings. They work as a team with the certified nurses also stationed in every school on safety and security issues. ‘We work to maintain open communication with law enforcement and emergency personnel with any and all threats. Once we were contacted, we notified building administrators to go into lockdown and remove all students from outdoor activities on campus as a precaution,’ Wilson continued. The escape and subsequent search provided an opportunity to evaluate the system. ‘We used the event to help us identify areas where we can improve emergency communications and have already implemented new procedures which we are confident will result in a safer school system emergency plan. ’We are constantly reviewing policies and procedures for ways to improve. We met with chief Chuck Keadle and sheriff Brad White last year to review our plan and we will meet with them again this year. We believe productive changes can take place when we are all at the table,’ Wilson concluded.

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