Superintendents for the Faribault and Northfield school districts are confident that with the policies in place at their respective schools, a plan such as the one John David LaDue, 17, was purportedly going to carry out in Waseca would be thwarted.
LaDue devised a plan to first kill his family, then start a fire outside of town to distract first responders before heading to the high school, setting off explosives and shooting as many students as he could.
“We’ve taken things to the next level the past two years in terms of readiness,” said Faribault Superintendent Todd Sesker. “Last spring we focused on intruder training and local law enforcement showed all of our staff various precautions to take if there is an intruder.”
Sesker said that each time something like this happens, school officials go back and look at the district’s emergency plan and then coordinates with the Faribault Police Department and Rice County Sheriff’s Department to put into place preventive measures.
But above all, Sesker believes communications is the key to preventing something like a Columbine or a Sandy Hook − or what could have happened in Waseca − from happening.
“Our school liaison officer gets to know the students and builds trust. Many times a student will come up and make the officer aware of something that is happening,” Sesker said. “This is one of the best ways we can prevent something like what could have happened in Waseca from happening here.”
Northfield superintendent Chris Richardson agrees, saying communications in different areas is the way to stop these things from ever getting to the point the Waseca incident did.
“I think it would be likely that another student would approach a teacher or staff member if he or she had any suspicions,” Richardson said.
But in case that doesn’t occur, the Northfield superintendent says there are contingencies in place that could help prevent an incident.
Richardson says the emergency crisis plan in place in the district is continuously looked at and tweaked after consultation with the Northfield Police Department and Rice County Sheriff’s Department.
He also said that security measures such as cameras, locking doors during school hours and keeping a close eye on students when they enter the school is a helpful deterrent.
“Then, we practice the core responses with the students and staff numerous times a year,” he said. “We try to address it on the front side before something actually happens.”
Reach Managing Editor Jerry Smith at 645-1136, or follow him on Twitter.com @NewsNorthfield