PEPPER PIKE, Ohio (WJW) – One day after a “modified lockdown” at Orange High School, the district is addressing concerns over their alert system after learning some classes weren’t notified of the situation.
Tuesday afternoon, a .22 caliber bullet was found in the cafeteria and a rifle recovered from a car in the parking lot.
Pepper Pike police responded quickly and arrested an 18-year-old student, although they determined he did not have any harmful intentions.
But during the debrief, school officials learned that there were issues with the notification system.
In a statement released to FOX 8 News, Superintendent Dr. Lynn Campbell said, in part, “The PA system was functioning properly throughout most of the building, there were some areas that did not receive the announcement, or the announcement was muffled. This included the Multi-Use Facility where voters were accessing the polls at the west end of the facility.”
Some parents who wished to remain anonymous expressed concerns over the malfunction.
Orange Village Mayor Kathy Mulcahy said she completely understands.
“It’s very concerning and it just reminds everybody that this happens anywhere,” Mulcahy said.
Late Tuesday night and Wednesday, the school began retesting the PA system and said, “all areas of concern are being immediately addressed.”
Mayor Mulcahy, who is in frequent communication with administrators, said, “I have complete confidence in the school superintendent and the administration under the leadership of the school board to take care of this matter… they’re going to get it right.”
The superintendent called the situation a learning experience.
School security experts responded to the situation, saying it should become a teachable moment for every school district.
Consultant Ken Trump, PhD. is president of the National School Safety & Security Services based in Cleveland.
“In all critical incidents, school shootings, an intruder in the building and other types of threats, communications is the number one failure,” he said.
Trump, who has more than 30 years of experience in preK-12 school safety, says drills are critically important, and what happened at Orange should be a wake-up call to every district.
“School leaders should check their PA systems, telephones, two-way radio systems at least several times a year,” said Trump. “If running a lockdown drill three times a year, do a debrief, get that information back, put it in work orders and make sure you get those problems fixed.”
Because, he says, in a real active shooter situation, every second counts.
“PA systems, two-way radios… these are things that make life and death differences,” said Trump.
At Orange, the superintendent says student and staff safety is their top priority and they will continue to analyze the event along with ongoing “drills” and “safety discussions,” also encouraging everyone if they see something to say something.