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Ravenna schools to implement A.L.I.C.E.

By Diane Smith | Staff Writer Published: February 18, 2013 4:00 AM
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The Ravenna School District is hosting a district-wide meeting to provide information about the district's new school safety procedures.

Superintendent Dennis Honkala said he sent a letter home with students, and sent a phone call out to all parents in the district inviting them to the meeting.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Ravenna High School auditorium.

"Over the past several years we have seen a dramatic increase in school violence and school shootings. As experts analyze these horrific events it is apparent that we need to do more, not only in taking steps in an attempt to prevent the incident from occurring, but in the training of students and staff on procedures that we all need to survive should there be an active shooter in our schools."

He said the district's new "A.L.I.C.E." initiative includes the traditional lockdown procedure, but includes several other measures designed to keep students safe in the event of a shooting.

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"Can we expect a fully-armed person that enters our school buildings with the intent to do harm to our children, simply to leave when they find that the classroom door is locked?" the letter states. "Knowing what we know about active shooters in school buildings, and other public places, the answer is NO. They have already made the decision to inflict harm when they armed themselves and entered that building."

"A.L.I.C.E." stands for the following steps to be taken in the event of a school shooting:

Alert students and staff by getting the word out. Instead of using the words "Code Red" the announcement would be more clear and concise such as, "Armed intruder in the building, we are in lockdown."

Lockdown students in a secure area.

Inform -- Communicate by giving students and staff real-time information, in order to keep the shooter off-balance and allow for good decision making.

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Counter -- Apply skills to distract, confuse, and/or barricade.

Evacuate -- Decrease the number of potential targets for the shooter and reduce the odds of having victims resulting from friendly fire when help arrives.

In the event of a school shooting, Honkala said, students and staff would be trained to listen carefully to the location and type of event, get to a secure area and remain there until it is safe to evacuate, use skills to distract, confuse or barricade the shooter should he invade the area, and evacuate as soon as it is safe to do so.

"I want to assure you that in NO WAY are we asking or teaching students and staff to make any attempt to subdue an armed gunman," the letter states. "However, we will provide them with the knowledge that if faced with a life or death situation, there are techniques that can be applied to greatly enhance their chance of survival."

In the event that they are confronted directly with an armed gunman, students and staff will be trained to cause distractions to interfere with the ability to shoot accurately, cause as much chaos in the room as possible to create "sensory overload," move around to avoid being a stationary target. They also will learn how to interact with law enforcement.

"Training will emphasize that the best way to survive an active shooter is to escape," he stated. "When that is not possible, being mentally prepared and having been given the authority and ability to act will save lives."

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1139 or dsmith@recordpub.com

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anonymous Feb 21, 2013 3:53 PM

I wonder if Mayor Bica ever considered that with Coleman Center redoing the Phoenix block it will bring more people with mental problems into Ravenna. Now I know that not all people with mental problems are a threat, but if you increase the number of people with mental problems are you not also increasing the possibility of a threat?

Do you remember the young man that was stabbed to death while lying on his couch in his own home on North Chestnut St.? He was stabbed by a man going out to RMH to get his meds.

You did not hear about the Coleman Client that just up and moved in with a couple on North Chestnut street and threatened to kill them if they did not let him stay. Coleman was contacted and would do nothing until they were told Channel 5 TV would be asked to come and do a report on it.

Finally we have to consider that in every one of the school shooting, the shooter had some kind of mental illness.

anonymous Feb 18, 2013 9:26 PM

I understand what you are saying and to some degree agree with you. This program teaches the kids to get out and if they have to throw something at the shooter to distract so they can get away. Nothing will stop a school shooting, not A.L.I.C.E training, armed teachers etc. I do also know that several students at Chardon escaped through the cafeteria window (ALICE instructs them to do). Field school system does NOT use A.L.I.C.E training. Those children will be more of the "sitting duck" than the children trained with A.L.I.C.E. Understand I am not against guns. If someone can have one so be it. I do also believe that teachers should be allowed to carry a gun to work if they want too.

anonymous Feb 18, 2013 6:36 PM

A.L.I.C.E. is a reactionary program to promote some type of protocol when an active shooter(s) are in a school while the local police department and other law enforcement agencies are responding.

This program does nothing to stop the shooter or protect the children who are in harms way.

This year the applications for ccw permits are increasing and as the article in today's paper indicates gun sales are going thru the roof. People are arming themselves to protect their families and themselves while in public.

I am not a NRA member, I believe in CCW program.

The A.L.I.C.E. is a sugar coating program until the police arrive. It would not of saved the students at Chardon or Newtown.

We need trained and armed personnel in our schools. Let the teachers and other school personnel who are CCW qualiifed with additional training carry their weapon while in school.

Throwing a stapler at a person holding a weapon and who is set on doing damage to our children is not the answer. A good person with a gun can and just might stop a bad person with a gun. The bad guy does not it expect, our schools currently are "gun-free" zones or gun-free killing zones.

Remember, ALICE will not prevent a gun-free killing zone. Arming school personnel WILL.

anonymous Feb 18, 2013 12:34 PM

Rootstown schools have been traied in/using ALICE for years and it's a solid program. It's good to see other area schools (Ravenna, Brimfield) taking this step!