SENSE OF SAFETY: TV6 Investigates security changes to North Scott Schools following 2018 gun incident
A near tragedy is shaping the upcoming school year for one Quad Cities area school district, but students won’t see many of the changes.
“What he did will not define us or impact our education,” North Scott School’s Superintendent Joe Stutting said.
The North Scott School District has implemented new changes since then 12-year-old Luke Andrews pulled out a gun on August 31, 2018, pointed it at the teacher’s face and pulled the trigger. The safety was on.
"We didn't have any knee jerk reactions, oh we have to do this, we have to do that,” Stutting said. “We had our safety committee analyze the recommendations, where we are at, make the changeswe need to make as a district, but most of the changes we made we were well on our way to make."
One of the first things the district did was roll out the P3 smartphone app for anonymous reporting. The district also put a bigger push on the “see something, say something” policy.
In addition to that, the district continues to monitor students' online activity. Right now, students get a school-issued Chromebook and a school email account. It is meant to help students with schoolwork, but there is misuse. During Andrews’ trial in July, testimony showed during class, Andrews was looking at images of guns and sent students messages about bringing a gun to school
Stutting says the district uses a program to alert the IT department if a student uses specific words. That includes anything about violence, to suicide to inappropriate words. It was used prior to the incident. Stutting said the program is not just about policing students, but also about building connections.
"How can we right away at the beginning of the year start building relationships, not only with themselves but with the staff,” he said.
On the security front, there is a new way to buzz guests into the building. At the North Scott Junior High School, guests will be buzzed into the building, then buzzed through the lobby into the school.
“This summer we added to their camera system. We upgraded it from an older camera system to a better camera system,” he said. “All of the buildings now have camera systems.
Meanwhile, Stutting said one change is controversial: lockdowns versus evacuations. The junior high went on lockdown after the incident last year.
"That situation in the future would even warrant a lockdown when the situation is under control, but yet there is a lot of investigating, so you don't want kids in the hallways,” he said. “We assume that this is one person, but you still want to check lockers, you want to check the electronic foot print to make sure other things are not involved."
Stutting said he wants teachers and staff to think twice and doesn’t want specific rules in place.
"We want our teachers to react,” he said. “That is going to be the safest, save the most amount of people in extreme circumstances versus saying nope, we always march down this hallway."
Another change: Stutting says in any incident where the superintendent is at the scene, someone else will take charge of the district for the time being. If another incident occurs, there will be a crisis manager. It would most likely be the superintendent, but Stutting said if he is not available, someone else will handle the scene, including questions from parents and journalists.