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School Administrators Reflect On Harrisburg Shooting

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Kealey Bultena

Last fall a student shot and wounded the principal at Harrisburg High School.  Last week school officials looked back to evaluate the safely plan used during that event.

They shared what changes they’ve made at the school during the Associated School Board and Administrators Convention in Sioux Falls August 5th. 

After a student shot Principle Kevin Lein in his office, Assistant Principal Ryan Rollinger  tackled the student while waiting for law enforcement. Rollinger says school administrators are the people who teach school drills. But it’s important for administrators to consider what actions they would take in case of an active shooter.

“Since I’ve been through this situation I’ve had a lot of professionals come in and talk to me about the fact that maybe thinking about that ahead of time caused us not to have to think so much, but to just react to the situation,” says Rollinger.

High School Principal Kevin Lein says school leaders followed protocol that helped all the students to remain safe. But he says part of preventing an event like this, is paying attention to students in need.  

“Again like I’ve mention before it’s really asking the insightful questions, really actually genuinely caring about the people next to you and then talking that time. And I know we’re all busy and we have lots of things to do and priority lists on our desks, but there’s nothing more important than that human interaction that can assist. I’ve got an unbelievably great counseling staff and I’m continually lauding them wondering how they take all of that in, asking them how you get rid of things yourself? Because they had to take a lot of things in this year-all the way up to the end of our school year. But that kind of communication, we keep that open- you want to let time fade away some of the fears, and fright and anxieties, but at the same time you want to keep some consciousness level of, 'boy we need to deal with this if someone’s got a problem.' So that’s our plan,” says Lein.

Changes to the school include how people enter the building, and more panic buttons to alert people outside the school if there’s an emergency.