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Date of Issue: December 13, 2007

AME principal proactive in emergency

As soon as Anna Maria Elementary School principal Tom Levengood was alerted that a shooting took place within the city of Holmes Beach Wednesday, Dec. 5, and that the suspect was at large, he took action.

“I immediately called the Holmes Beach Police Department,” said Levengood. “I believe in being proactive - not reactive - as the care and safety of our students comes first.”

Levengood was instructed to proceed with a normal school day and that “lockdown” procedures would not be necessary because the suspect was known to have headed south to Bradenton Beach and that police had already contained the situation.

Levengood said he called the Manatee County School District hotline to alert management of the day’s events and fielded numerous calls from concerned parents. He sent out an automated voice call to all parents to relieve any worries.

“I’m not one who will sit and wait, hoping nothing happens,” said Levengood.

In this case, there was no threat to the students on campus, but should a dangerous situation ever arise, there are lockdown procedures that will ensure everyone’s safety.

Levengood explained that a lockdown includes bringing any students and faculty working in the portables and adjacent buildings into the main building. All exterior doors are locked and the school day proceeds as normal within the confines of the main building.

If a “code red” emergency occurs - a threatening situation on school grounds - a more extensive lockdown enactment involves drawing window blinds, turning all lights off, and students are secured in safe areas out of view with all classroom doors locked from within.

Levengood stated that new schools are outfitted with a “Columbine Lock” on classroom doors, which provide a high level of security for teachers and students because the door is locked from the inside and can only be opened with a key.

The Manatee County Sherrif’s Office recently visited AME and reviewed the school’s emergency plan. Levengood said each school has its own emergency plan as well as backup safety plans in place to ensure the safety of students both on-campus and off-campus.

“Many parents call to inquire about our policies,” said Levengood, “but for obvious reasons, the details of our emergency plan are not something we care to publish.”