While police pursued a man driving through Springs with a loaded shotgun early Friday afternoon, all public schools in East Hampton Town—in Springs, East Hampton, Wainscott, Amagansett and Montauk—went into lockout mode and, later, lockdown mode, while the various police departments worked to apprehend the man.
Schools take their cue from the police in times of crisis, Springs Principal Eric Casale said in a phone interview on Monday.
“They tell us to go into lockdown or lockout,” said Mr. Casale. “The difference is, lockdown means the threat is very close to or within the vicinity. Lockout means the threat is not in the vicinity, but the school is not letting anyone in or out.”
Mr. Casale could not comment, specifically, on what the procedure for a lockdown is within the school, for safety reasons, but said the district has a committee of people who work with local police departments to come up with a plan. “It’s something we take very seriously,” he said. “We do a number of different drills. The staff here is well aware of the protocol, and we practice [drills] throughout the school year.”
Mr. Casale said the school district notifies parents through various forms of electronic communication, including notifications on its website, text and email alerts, and, in some cases, automated phone calls.
“Our plan gets reviewed and updated every year,” Mr. Casale said of lockdown and lockout procedures. “We have a committee that does this districtwide, with local authorities, the police department, fire department, emergency response personnel.”
Montauk School Principal Jack Perna said many of his students were at recess during the lockdown, and that the lunch monitors made an announcement to bring them inside. “It was the first time, for our pre-K kids, that we had a lockdown,” he said, adding that the other students in the school had done lockdown drills previously and knew what to expect. “Things went smoothly,” he said.
Mr. Perna said on Monday he met with the school’s DARE officer, Kim Notel, to go over the school’s protocol and discuss what works and what can be improved.
“Every principal will tell you the same thing,” said Mr. Perna. “These are other people’s children I’m responsible for, and I take it very seriously. Safety is our top priority.”