Evansville school official: Security procedures were followed in Thursday lockdown
EVANSVILLE—District Administrator Jerry Roth says administrators did everything right Thursday when responding to a former student with a knife, a situation that forced Evansville High School into a lockdown.
All visitors must push a button on an intercom, which is connected to a video monitor in the school office, he said. An administrative assistant asks visitors why they want to enter and, if appropriate, lets them in.
It is “extremely rare” for administrators to encounter a visitor who poses a threat, Roth said.
He estimated officials deny access to visitors no more than once a year.
Visitors then must sign in at the assistant's desk and wait for someone to meet them or escort them to their destinations, Roth said.
That's the procedure former student Katelyn Frame followed when she entered the high school Thursday and reportedly tried to attack an administrator with a knife, Roth said.
“We're a small town. We're very welcoming, and that was the issue yesterday,” he said. “We're very welcoming to people we know. We make ourselves available.”
Administrative assistants do not receive specialized training to detect threats from visitors, Roth said. However, they know to look for suspicious behavior, items or clothing that might indicate a threat.
District staffers have been trained in a program intended to teach people how to respond to active shooters, Roth said.
On occasion, irritated parents might drop by the school, Roth said. When that happens, administrators talk to the parents or visitors to de-escalate the situation before they are allowed inside.
Roth said he thinks the systems they have in place are comparable to most high schools.
The Janesville School District has a similar procedure for allowing visitors to enter schools.
Visitors have to buzz in on an intercom and be granted access by administrative staff before getting visitor passes in the school's office, said Brian Donohoue, a police liaison for the Janesville School District.
Administrative staff members receive conflict resolution threat assessment training from Donohoue that teaches them to look for threats before people enter the school, he said.
He also teaches staffers how to use their five senses to detect behaviors and facial expressions that might indicate trouble after someone enters a school, Donohoue said.
School resource officers are on site in Janesville schools and are the first point of contact in an emergency situation, Donohoue said. Administrators also have access to portable police radios in case phones are not available.
The Evansville School District does not use school resource officers, but Evansville police officers often check in at the schools or do walk-throughs, Roth said.
Jason Knott, principal at Evansville High School, and Athletic Director Brian Cashore were responsible for detaining Frame, Roth said.
“I would say I consider our two administrators heroes,” Roth said. “They took care of a situation that could have really gotten out of hand.”
Frame, who also uses the first name Kayden, was transported to the Winnebago Mental Health Institute and is expected to remain there for a few days, said Barb Meister, Rock County correctional officer.
Administrators will spend the coming weeks reviewing the situation and whether any security or communication procedures need to be improved, Roth said.
“Our schools are the hub of the community,” he said. “We are very welcome to the community. We want people here.”