Police arrested a student at Orange High School, and the school district admitted an announcement concerning a lockdown could not be heard in some parts of the building.
Now, we’ve reviewed internal emails about problems with the PA system going back 10 years.
The emails show teachers repeatedly raising concerns about the intercom not working. Among the complaints, dead spots in the building where nothing could be heard or only muffled sound could be heard.
Included in the emails, “no working warning system, “unacceptable,” and “a safety issue.”
After this week’s incident, the district announced it would fix the issues immediately.
But Thursday, we went to district headquarters.
“Why did it take until this incident to say, ‘we’re going to fix this immediately?'” we asked.
“We test our system all the time, so those emails you’re referring to, I’m not aware of those,” spokesman Lou DeVincentis said.
The I-Team pointed out that we had reviewed emails about the intercom system from 2013, 2014, 2018 and 2022.
This week, the PA system even failed in a part of the building where polls were set up and people were voting.
“Whether it’s training or looking at our system, our cameras, our PA system. We’re always looking at those and testing those. I’m not sure what happened 10 years ago,” DeVincentis said.
The district says, since this week’s incident, it has done work on the PA system and double-checked a back-up system with phones.
A couple of the emails we reviewed did refer to work being done on the intercom system in 2014 and even last year. But there were more problems this week, so we took all of this to a local man running a national school safety consulting firm.
Ken Trump leads National School Safety and Security Services.
“In a school crisis, communications is the number one key factor,” Trump said.
He said a PA system can be a matter of life and death.
“If those aren’t working, people can’t get to safe locations, lockdown, get out of harm’s way, know that there’s something going on,” Trump said.
In the incident this week, authorities said it began with the discovery of a bullet in the cafeteria. Ultimately, a student came forward and said he had a gun in his car.
Police arrested 18-year-old Nolan Rosen, and investigators say he now faces a charge for the weapon and inducing panic. Next, a grand jury will take up the case to consider charges in common pleas court.
Police say Rosen posted bond and was released from jail.
Meanwhile, we shared our findings with parents and taxpayers. They told us they expect better before another kid with a gun.
“They should have a foolproof plan,” one father said.
“They should always look at ways of improving and getting better,” another taxpayer said.
The teacher’s union also just released a statement. A statement on behalf of David Miller, the Orange Teachers Association President, said:
“The members of the Orange Teachers Association are grateful for the quick action taken by administration and police when a bullet was found at the high school. This incident concerning a student who brought a weapon to school certainly shines a spotlight on ongoing safety concerns for students and educators.
“Regrettably, these incidents are happening more frequently, so our students and staff must train for these situations on a regular basis. When an emergency situation like this occurs in real time, it highlights areas in the district’s response plans that can be improved. The Orange Teachers Association takes members’ concerns seriously and hopes to collaborate with the administration to improve the district’s emergency communications and response plans.
“In order to create a positive learning environment, students and educators must feel safe. It is important that we all continue to take safety issues seriously. Collaborative plans in which all stakeholders are active contributors are key to the safety and success of our schools.”