FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – For months, families of the Parkland victims and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission have been saying that a formal code red policy and a policy establishing hard corners in classrooms were necessary and overdue.
On Wednesday, the Broward School Board put those safety measures in place and Superintendent Robert Runice said the reason the hard corners policy took a while is because it’s not as easy as it looks.
Hard corners are areas in classrooms where students and teachers would not be visible from hallways, windows or door openings.
After the Parkland shooting there was a lot of concern that classrooms in the Freshman Building did not have hard corners identified leaving students vulnerable. The confessed shooter did not even enter a classroom.
He shot students through door windows and in the hallways. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission said hard corners are a necessity.
They wrote in their initial report that “The District’s failure to mandate and implement hard corners or safe areas in every classroom was a safety breach that contributed to students being shot.”
Board member Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter Alyssa was murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, said Alyssa might have been saved if there had been a safer space in her classroom.
“Alyssa was in the direct line of fire,” Alhadeff said. “But if there was a safer space she could have known where that was and ran to that safer space and hypothetically could still be alive today.”
Board members and Superintendent Robert Runcie said Wednesday they wanted to pass a policy to get safer spaces into classrooms right away. Runcie added that said safety experts and law enforcement cautioned that this issue is more complicated than it seems.
“We have rooms that have multiple doors,” Runcie said. “We have classrooms with windows. So, again, there are practical limitations.”
Broward Schools Chief of Staff Jeffrey Moquin said safer spaces for one incident may not be safe for a different incident.
“There are classrooms based on their configurations where there is no safer space or that space would change depending on where the threat is emanating from,” Moquin told the Board.
The board promised to tweak the policy as needed depending on specific issues in schools, classrooms and situations.
Another change is a formal code red policy. At Stoneman Douglas, the Commission found that no one on the campus called a code red for more than 3 minutes after the shooting began. The district said they had policies for a code red in the past but this move formalizes the policy…and mandates annual training for all school employees and it also makes clear that any employee can call the code red.
One section of the policy reads, “Any staff member must take appropriate action including initiating a Code Red lockdown on a school campus should they see, hear or smell anything that may immediately impact the safety and security of any staff, students or visitors.”
Runcie said the policy should be clear to all employees.
“It has further clarifications for our expectations around training and that every employee must participate and understand the policy,” he said. “Also, that every employee has a responsibility to be able to call a code red, for example and do whatever they can to make sure our schools are as safe as possible.”
Lori Alhadeff believes the formal code red policy is a crucial step for school employees.
“That’s super important that they know that they are required to call a code red if they see something,” she said.
Superintendent Runcie said these two policies come on top of a myriad of other safety measures enacted recently — more video cameras on campuses, sharing of live video surveillance with law enforcement, additional fencing at some schools and protocols for people visiting school campuses. But critics say these measures are too late and cannot save the 17 Parkland victims.
The community will have a chance to address these and other security measures at a school district town hall on Monday night at J. P. Taravella High School in Coral Springs.