School Lockdown Sparks Policy Review

District Reviews Lockdown Procedures

     “Lockdown.” That’s what students heard Nov. 30 in the middle of the second lunch shift during the third block.

     The intercom announcement was made by a person rather than the pre-recorded announcement students had been trained to hear, and it brought panic across the building.

     When the panic continued to rise, students had to make decisions. Some students ran out onto the other side of the street and stopped near the four-way stop. Inside the classrooms, teachers turned off lights and barricaded their doors. Some even took the extra step to give students items to defend themselves.

“My teacher gave us books to possibly defend ourselves which made me more worried. I called my sister and best friend to see if they were OK because they were both at lunch at the time.”

— Sophomore Savannah Keen

     “My teacher gave us books to possibly defend ourselves which made me more worried,” sophomore Savannah Keen said. “I called my sister and best friend to see if they were OK because they were both at lunch at the time.”

     After authorities declared that the area was secure, the school transitioned into a lock-and-teach and resumed classes. Administration made announcements to reassure students they were safe. They made third block longer that day and gave the rest of the blocks their lunch time.


     Lock out, get out or take out. Those are the options students have when there is a threat in the school, and students had to make that decision in real time.

     “There was a police call for service that there was a person off the school property, but close, that might have had a gun,” said Robert McLees, Safety and Security director for the North Kansas City School District.

     A month before the lockdown, assistant principal Chris Neff went over lockdown procedures during lunch. They covered what students should do if they are in the cafeteria as well as schoolwide procedures.

     “We have had two lockdown drills in which we reviewed all of our processes with our students,” principal Larry Smith, Ed.D., said. “We also, prior to that lockdown, had taken the time once during lunch to go over with every lunch shift what to do in the event of a lockdown if you happen to be in the cafeteria during lunch, which is what happened for some of the students.”

     Lockdown drills are a regular practice in the North Kansas City School District, with schools holding multiple drills per year.

District Training

    Faculty went through training on what to do if there was an active shooter. The training was in partnership with the Clay County Sheriff’s Department as well as Stratigos Dynamics, a security company, McClees said. School resource officers and some teachers attended a one-week conference with Stratigos where they learned updated lockdown procedures.

     After attending the conference, they taught faculty the updated procedures.

     “I love having teachers as part of our training team,” McLees said. “They are in the classrooms, and they’re in our buildings, and they are responsible for kids. SROs are in our buildings, but they’re not teaching.

Students’ Options

     Locking out means that doors are locked, windows are covered, doors are barricaded and students are out of eyesight from potential intruders. Getting out requires people to leave the danger area, which could mean leaving the school or going from a hallway to an empty classroom. Taking out is a last resort when the other two options have failed. This means that the student now has to fend off the threat, fight the intruder.

Nationwide Outcry

     School shootings are ingrained in American society. In 2022, there were 51 shootings that involved injuries or deaths in schools, according to Education Week. It was the most in a single year since the group started tracking in 2018. The uptick in shootings brought a nationwide outcry for a reassessment of gun laws.

     “Missouri is one of the most permissive states when it comes to gun access,” said Sen. Lauren Arthur (D-Mo.). “We get less and less restrictive each year.”

     Arthur said that in 2020 the general assembly passed the Second Amendment Registration Act which, according to the Missouri Independent, does not allow local officials to enforce federal gun policies. And if they do so, they could be fined.

     Arthur is a former teacher, having taught at the Urban Community Leadership Academy charter school.

     “I have seen personally how harmful and life changing gun violence is for young people,” said Arthur.


     After the lockdown ended, administration said they shifted their focus to communication, keeping in touch with parents, students, faculty and law enforcement.

     “Following the lockdown we communicated with our students through an intercom announcement, and we communicated with staff in multiple staff meetings since then,” Smith said. “We participated in a debrief with local law enforcement agencies. We’ve done a review of trainings during lunch with students and done a review of all processes with our district.”


Staff Editorial: Lockdowns Shouldn’t Be Status Quo