SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – After an unannounced code red drill at Lake Brantley High School caused panic among students, Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma announced a new protocol going forward.
Unannounced code red drills will still take place at Seminole County schools, but an announcement will be made at the beginning of the drill notifying students, staff and parents that there is no actual threat. Pre-planned code red drills will also still take place.
"I was briefed about what occurred at Lake Brantley High School at the conclusion, and I immediately suspended all Code Red drills until we could determine what led to the incident and make the necessary changes. The bottom line is this – we are no longer going to do these unannounced Code Red drills in that manner anymore," Lemma wrote in a news release.
On Thursday, an unannounced code red drill was held at Lake Brantley High School. Only a school resource officer and law enforcement knew that the drill would take place that morning.
Students obtained and shared a screen shot of a message that read, "Active shooter reported at Brantley/Building 1/Building 2 and other buildings by B Shafer at 10:21:45. Initiate a Code Red Lockdown," which they said students said caused them to panic and text their loved ones in fear.
A message was supposed to be sent to parents notifying them of the drill when it began, but Seminole County Schools spokesperson Michael Lawrence said that that message wasn't sent until an hour later.
Officials said that after the code red drill was lifted, an announcement was made over the loud speaker to thank students for their participation in the drill, but in the cafeteria all students could hear was "code red," which sent students running out of the building.
One student told News 6 that she fell to the ground and got trampled during the frenzy.
Lemma and Lawrence both said that these drills are conducted to develop the best practices in the case of an actual on-campus emergency.
"I want to highlight the positive working relationship that the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office has with the Seminole County Public Schools. Long before there was a mandate to keep schools safe, we came together to proactively make sure that happened. Over the past several years, as the environments and concerns changed, so have our strategies. During this time, SCSO and SCPS have worked incredibly close to ensure kids, faculty, and staff are kept safe in their learning environments," Lemma said.