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Jeff Meadors: Safety takes practice

Is student safety dictated by ZIP codes, feeder patterns and bus routes?

Public schools spend big bucks and company time looking for ways to hold teachers accountable, but who is holding leaders accountable for failure to comply with Life Safety Code 11-7-.1, requiring all public and private schools to conduct monthly fire drills while in session? Two drills are required in August.

School safety is center stage in the aftermath of Sandy Hook, but in order to navigate pathways to safety regardless of the type of threat, students need drill and practice.

Based on publicly available data reflected on the website of the Georgia Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner, some schools seem to think that safety is optional.

At Alcovy High School, three of 11 required drills were conducted and reported in school year 2009-10; four of 11 for school year 2010-11, three of 11 for school year 2011-12, and the school has failed to conduct and report a second drill in August 2012. No drills are documented for November 2012. Since 2009, the school has failed to conduct and report nearly 25 required drills.

Veterans Memorial Middle has failed to conduct and report 36 of 39 drills in the same three-year period, and Liberty Middle failed to report in September and November of 2012.

While many Newton County elementary schools lack compliance, Oak Hill Elementary School demonstrates 100 percent compliance over the three-year period.

Flint Hill, Live Oak and Fairview show full compliance to date for the current school year. While South Salem and Mansfield show no drills reported in September, both schools conducted three drills in August and are otherwise in compliance this school year. West Newton Elementary has not reported a drill since September.

In Rockdale, every elementary school is in compliance for fiscal year 2013: Peek's Chapel, Barksdale, Shoal Creek, Sims, Pine Street, Flat Shoals, Hightower Trail, Honey Creek, House and Lorraine. Seventy-five percent of Rockdale middle schools comply: Memorial, Davis, and Edwards. Conyers Middle has not reported a December 2012 drill.

Rockdale Career Academy, Heritage High, Rockdale High and Rockdale Open Campus are in compliance to date for fiscal year 2013. Salem has not reported a drill since Oct. 5.

National statistics on education show that between the 1999-2000 and 2009-10 school years, there was an increase in the percentage of public schools reporting the use of the following safety and security measures: controlled access to the building during school hours (from 75 to 92 percent); controlled access to school grounds during school hours (from 34 to 46 percent); use of one or more security cameras to monitor the school (from 19 to 61 percent); and the requirement that students wear uniforms (from 12 to 19 percent).

We can throw taxpayer money at schools all day long, but all the money in the world won't fix repeat offenders, leaving students scrambling when emergencies take place.

It takes leadership to fix that.

For more information on reporting contact Jeff Meadors at pjeffreymeadors@gmail.com.