Montana school safety policies reviewed after California shooting


KALISPELL, Mont. - While a school shooting in San Bernardino, California, took place over 1,200 miles away from Kalispell, it still worries people in the Flathead.

Monday a man walked into a special education classroom in California, killed his estranged wife and a student and then killed himself.

"It's not a super common occurrence. But the fact is if you can take steps to prevent something from happening then, yes, steps should be taken," Evergreen resident Kevin Fitzpatrick said.

Flathead County Superintendent of Schools Jack Eggensberger said, "There isn't a countywide (plan) for schools. Every school is required by the Office of Public Instruction to have an emergency operation plan."

Eggensberger said many of the other emergency plans he has are not updated and said he plans on making those updates a priority.

"That's one of the things I need to do is go through and get updated ones," Eggensberger said.

We checked the policies for schools in Kalispell, Butte and Missoula. All require every visitor to check in at the main office before being admitted into the school.

It's a different story in Bozeman, where each building has limited access and school workers wear ID tags, while visitors are required to check in and wear ID tags as well.

Bozeman staff members are asked to stop and question anyone who isn't wearing a badge and report anyone not following the rules or anything suspicious.

Kalispell School Resource Officer Cory Clark says Hedges Elementary is one of the safest schools in the state. He showed us an advanced check-in system along with front doors that can only be opened when the main office lets visitors in.

Clark is a trainer in an active shooter simulation called Run, Lock, Fight. Initially created in Missoula, the program is gaining steam in the Flathead.

"In Kalispell School District 5 we currently have three schools that have completed (the training), and in the summer we're hoping for four more scheduled, and then Glacier (High School) will be completed by 2018," Clark said.

Clark says the program is more proactive and gives staff members the tools to act "adequately" and not be trapped by the circumstance.

According to the FBI there have been 20 active shooting incidents in schools in both 2014 and 2015.

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