SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Seminole County school officials are apologizing Friday after they say there were breakdowns in how the school handled an unannounced code red active shooter drill on Lake Brantley High School's campus Thursday.
"A lot of lessons learned," said Michael Lawrence, Seminole County Schools spokesperson. "That's kind of why we do these things, every opportunity is a lesson to learn more of what worked and what didn't work."
Video sent to News 6 Thursday showed dozens of students running out of the school's cafeteria.
Lawrence said that was the second incident of the day.
The first breakdown happened in the morning, during the planned unannounced code red drill, which he says only law enforcement and the school resource officer knew about. During that drill, school administrators were supposed to follow the district's best practices and send out a message to parents who may be getting texts from their students that there was in fact a drill happening, however Lawrence said Friday, that message wasn't sent out until an hour later. Lawrence added the principal was not on campus when it happened.
"The number one lesson learned that yes, those messages have got to go out much quicker," Lawrence said. "We believe they intended to send a message earlier and they thought it went out but it didn't go out."
The secondary lesson learned came during what school officials say was the second incident of the day. It happened during lunch. According to school officials, after the code red was lifted, students were still sharing and spreading a screenshot message of the code red alert.
The message 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."
To ease concerns, administrators decided to make an announcement congratulating how the students did during the drill. However, in a loud cafeteria, all students caught onto was hearing the term "code red" again.
"They couldn't really hear all the announcements, so all the kids could hear was the words 'code red,'" Lawrence said.
He says add the sounds of nail guns being used with construction near the cafeteria and it was enough to send students into a frenzy.
"Definitely lessons learned. We will not be doing intercom announcements like that during lunch," Lawrence added.
He also said the district is working on new language after the "code red" to not use those specific words.
Lake Brantley senior Allison Keegan, who was wearing a brace while speaking to News 6, said the announcements were muffled. In trying to escape, she was thrown to the ground.
"I get pushed and my food falls and the next thing I know I'm on the floor. Kids don't stop and they just kept running and stomping all across me," Keegan said.
It was her mom, Colleen Eskins, who was questioning what the district is going to do to make sure it doesn't happen again.
"I'm hoping they learn from their mistakes," Eskins said. "I think the drills should continue but I believe they should be done in a way that is safe not just physically but emotionally for everybody involved."
Lake Brantley's Principal, Dr. Trent Daniel sent this message to parents on Friday.
Dear Patriot Families,
I understand many of you are concerned regarding yesterday’s events, and as the leader of Lake Brantley High School I’d like to take this opportunity to let you know that I am aware of, and am taking your concerns seriously.
I have spent the day debriefing with all parties involved in yesterday’s events and I want to assure you that I’m committed to taking action based on lessons learned from those debriefings. Student safety is and always will be the number one priority at Lake Brantley High School.
The purpose of any drill is to test procedures and protocols in order to make improvements. Please know that I will continue to make the necessary improvements to our procedures so that the incidents that transpired yesterday will not occur again.
Thank you for your continued support and, as always, I look forward to working with all of you.