Austin school drill scares some students, teachers

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Associated Press

Posted on December 18, 2013 at 9:03 AM

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — While some parents complained that a lockdown drill at a school unnecessarily scared children and teachers, others welcomed the security effort.

Parents of Small Middle School students were notified by email an hour before last Thursday's drill, but students and most staff had no prior warning, the Austin American-Statesman (http://bit.ly/JGV0gf ) reported.

During the drill an administrator announcing over the public address system: "Emergency conditions exist. This is a lockdown."

School district police Chief Eric Mendez said Tuesday that preparation is essential.

"We're not looking to frighten the children or be traumatized over the incident, but we need to make sure people know what they're doing to be prepared," Mendez said. "What purpose does it serve if they know it's coming?

Parents were notified by email about 8:30 a.m. CST last Thursday. Some staffers, including those in charge of special needs children, were told in advance of the security lockdown drill, according to Amy Taylor, school principal.

Jessica Graffunder, whose daughter attends the school, says the girl has had trouble sleeping since the drill, sometimes crying at bedtime.

"Being prepared is key, but where do we draw the line between being prepared and traumatizing the faculty and the children?" Graffunder said. The parent didn't see the email about the drill until Thursday afternoon.

Another parent, Judy Bienvenu, said her sixth-grader son didn't understand the announcements and continued upstairs to class. A coach ushered the child to the boy's locker room where he took cover with other students and remained quiet until the drill was over.

"I applaud them for doing this drill," Bienvenu said. "There is very little we can do as a society to stop these mass shootings, but what we can do is to prepare our kids. This is the only way we can help our kids."

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Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com

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