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JEFF MEADORS: Is school safety optional?

Oak Hill Elementary has fully complied with state safety codes for more than one decade while Clements Middle has failed to report compliance for five years.

Is school safety optional? Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens doesn’t think so.

Pursuant to Life Safety Code 11-7-.1 public schools in Georgia must conduct monthly fire drills while in session including two drills in August.

So why are most local schools out of compliance based on publicly released reporting data? Did drills take place or not? Who is holding schools accountable for fidelity in reporting as well as veracity of data collection for years of noncompliance?

In 2013, Alcovy High failed to report drills in January, April, May, September, November and December and has not reported a severe weather drill since Jan. 24, 2012.

Clements Middle School has not reported a drill since Jan. 9, 2009, representing five full years of noncompliance for more than 60 required drills.

Cousins Middle School failed to report in December. East Newton Elementary failed to report in March, April, and September.

Eastside High failed to report in May and December and has not reported a severe weather drill in almost five years since Feb. 4, 2009.

Fairview Elementary is in 100 percent compliance.

Flint Hill Elementary failed to report drills in April and May.

Heard-Mixon failed to report in January, March, May, October, November and December.

Indian Creek Middle failed to report in January, April and May.

Liberty Middle failed to report in February, April, May, October and December.

Live Oak Elementary is in 100 percent compliance.

Livingston failed to report in March, May and December.

Mainstay Academy reported one drill in 2013 on April.

Mansfield Elementary is in 100 percent compliance, has completed three severe weather drills and an additional fire drill to exceed compliance.

Middle Ridge failed to report in April, October, and December.

Newton High is in 100 percent compliance for fire drills but has failed to report a severe weather drill since Feb. 8, 2012 — nearly two years.

Newton College & Career Academy, where student firefighters are being trained and where Fire Science and Emergency Services pathways exist, failed to report in May, November and December and has reported no severe weather drills since its inception.

The Newton County Theme School at Ficquett failed to report in February, March, October and December.

Oak Hill Elementary is in 100 percent compliance as previously stated. What motivates Oak Hill to maintain excellence in reporting over all schools in the apparent absence of accountability for noncompliance?

Porterdale Elementary reported no drills in February, April and December. Rocky Plains reported no drills in February, April, May, September and December. South Salem Elementary is in 100 percent compliance. Veterans Middle failed to report in April, September and October.

West Newton failed to report in April and December. The school conducted back to back drills on Oct. 30 and 31 but reported 640 fewer people in both October reports than the 775 reported in September and November.

When students lack knowledge of fire and emergency procedures then unnecessary risk escalates.

Columnist Jeff Meadors may be reached at pjeffreymeadors@gmail.com.