VIENNA — When early reports of an active shooter at Marshall County High School in Kentucky reached law enforcement officers in Johnson County, Illinois, on Tuesday, they notified Joshua Stafford, superintendent of Vienna School District.

Stafford said staff was notified. Uniformed police officers made their presence known in the building, as well as patrolling outside.

“We did not know if it was an isolated event. Once we had secured everything at the schools, we notified everyone,” Stafford said.

Stafford explained that Vienna High School is only a 45-minute drive from Marshall County High School, where a 15-year-old student shot more than a dozen classmates on Tuesday, killing two.

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Vienna school officials received notice before Marshall County High School was secured by law enforcement officers. With so much unknown, the school district implemented its safety protocols.

Stafford

“We are there with the goals of educating students and providing them a bright and promising future. We have to ensure that the environment is safe and secure, and it takes everybody to accomplish that,” Stafford said.

The district also strives to make sure the educational environment remains calm and constant.

Stafford used social media to help with notifications. He knew as parents heard about the event in Kentucky they would worry about their children.

“This is the emotional response of every mom, dad, grandparent and spouse of an employee: Is my loved one safe?” Stafford said.

Lorie LeQuatte, regional superintendent of schools for Franklin, Johnson, Massac and Williamson counties, said administrators throughout the region were aware of situation and followed safety protocols. She does not believe any safety measures were put in place in schools in Franklin nor Williamson counties. She said all the schools followed their safety protocols.

Stafford added that the schools practice for all kinds of emergencies, including a response to active intruders. To help with their efforts, the Vienna district built a safety team that includes Vienna police, Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, Illinois State Police, the state’s attorney, victims’ advocates and Family Counseling Center, as well as school administrators and staff. They meet quarterly to discuss topics ranging from prevention to crisis management.

They also do hands-on active intruder training with students, staff and bus drivers.

LeQuatte said schools are mandated by the state to meet certain safety requirements, which include safety plans for emergencies, including active intruders.

“We have meetings and practice with law enforcement. We make sure all schools are meeting those requirements. We also have speakers and workshops in training situations,” LeQuatte said.

LeQuatte said the Regional Office of Education works well with law enforcement. Much like bus evacuation or fire drills, this is something that takes place early in the school year.

The office also has a relationship with a local trainer on preparedness plans, Steve Webb, superintendent of Goreville schools, said.

“All of the schools are coached and probably go above and beyond the requirements,” LeQuatte said.

“We want everybody watching, everybody aware. If you see something, say something. If something doesn’t seem right, we want to know, so we can prevent an incident,” Stafford said.

Even with practice and planning, Stafford knows they cannot predict every situation. 

“Our thoughts and prayers are with family and friends in Marshall County. We are all susceptible to those scenarios,” Stafford said.

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