Local News

1/29/2013

School officials spend day on safety

By MICHAEL HALL The Brunswick News

Rod Ellis, chief of Glynn County School System's police force, wants to ensure each assistant principal and secretary is properly prepared in the event of a crisis situation.

Every employee has a role in securing campuses, Ellis said, but the people working in the front office are often the first line of defense.

"The first concern is those babies," Ellis told a group of more than 20 elementary school assistant principals and secretaries gathered for crisis management training at the Risley Annex Monday. "It may happen that you put yourself in harm's way if something happens."

Dangerous situations are very rare, he said. In fact, statistics show children are more likely to be killed by lightning than in a school shooting.

But after 20 children and six teachers and administrators were gunned down in the December tragedy in Newtown, Conn., Ellis is not taking any chances.

"The training we are providing you today needs to be provided to everybody," Ellis said. "Every single one of us is responsible for keeping these kids safe."

He used role playing to put his trainees in different situations to see how they would react.

It was a learning experience for April Kilroy, assistant principal at Glyndale Elementary, Rhonda Jaudon, assistant principal at Goodyear Elementary, and Dorothy Antic, assistant principal at Oglethorpe Point Elementary.

Antic had to deal with a situation in which Kilroy, playing a mentally ill mother, brought her daughter, played by Jaudon, on campus after school had let out and began making a scene.

"Remain calm and try not to let the situation escalate," Ellis told Antic.

How to deal with a crisis depends on the type of crisis it is, Ellis said.

"It's all situational dependent," he said.

Someone entering a school building without permission and waving a gun is obviously much more dangerous than a divorced couple arguing over who will take the child for the weekend, but all situations should be taken seriously, Ellis said.

Katy Ginn, assistant principal at St. Simons Elementary, has never had to deal with anything that poses imminent danger for the children at her school, but she was happy to get some training in how to respond.

"It's better to be prepared," Ginn said. "Unfortunately, it's necessary these days."