Hawaii schools chair wants active shooter preparation policy

HONOLULU — The head of the Hawaii Board of Education said it’s time to consider developing a public school policy on preparing for active shooter scenarios.

Catherine Payne spoke after a gunman killed 19 fourth-graders and their two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday.

“Given what’s happening, it’s suddenly moved higher up on the priority list,” Payne told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in an interview.

“This is such a big national issue, and I think student safety is probably the foundation upon which we build everything else,” Payne said.

Students won’t learn well if they and their teachers don’t feel safe coming to school, she said.

“So we need to make sure we have things in place to reassure people that we have this together,” she said.

Payne’s time as board chairperson ends next month. She expects the new chairperson, to be named by the governor, to direct the state Department of Education to assess and report on school preparations and safeguards regarding shootings.

Payne said public schools generally have been required to routinely run drills for emergencies such as fires, and should have been conducting drills for shooting scenarios at least annually. But she said it’s unclear how consistently schools have done so during the pandemic.


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