Schools caught failing on safety drills now make the grade

Posted at 10:28 PM, Apr 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-24 23:28:53-04

School kids today need to be ready for the worst.

Safety experts say it is a lesson best taught through regular drills for fires, tornados and school lock downs.

"You want these drills to become routine, so when there is an emergency, they have a routine to follow," said Waukesha Fire Marshal Brian Charlesworth.

In 2014, Charlesworth discovered the same problem as an I-TEAM investigation.

Waukesha schools were failing to protect their students, as required by state law.

The law requires every school do a minimum of nine fire drills each academic year, plus two tornado drills and two safety or lockdown drills.

Between 2010 and 2012, the I-TEAM found 21 of 23 Waukesha schools did not do all the drills required by law.

"Some were paperwork errors, and drills were done but not recorded. Others were cases where drills just weren't completed," Charlesworth said.

Since then Charlesworth has paid close attention to the district's drill policy.

Four years later, it's straight-As.

"Things have been good. As a matter of fact, I just did my last check over spring break and there was 100 percent compliance with all the schools in the district I inspect," he said.

A district that did even worse than Waukesha was Oak Creek-Franklin.

Between 2010 and 2012, not one school in that district did all the drills required by state law.

As then-superintendent Sara Burmeister told the I-TEAM, safety drills were not even on her radar until we asked.

Today, under new leadership, the district has turned things around.

Records show every school in Oak Creek-Franklin is complying with state law.

"We met or exceeded all requirements last year and we have no reason to suspect we will not meet or exceed requirements this year as well," the district said in a statement.

While the law requires schools do all these drills, no one from the state pays attention to them.

That is left up to school districts, fire departments and the honor system.