School safety in Frisco ISD: An interview with Superintendent Dr. Waldrip


Perry Mellone

As the 2017-2018 school year ends and the senior class graduates, 8th graders from feeder schools are preparing to enter high school for the first time.

School districts across the nation are examining their safety protocols after a Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL killed 17 students.

On Friday, Wingspan spoke via telephone with Frisco ISD Superintendent Dr. Mike Waldrip to discuss school safety in Frisco ISD.

Wingspan: First of all, when something like this happens, what thoughts go through your head?

Waldrip: “Well, it’s always probably our greatest fear, is something like this would happen to not only us, but any other high school at all, any place.”

Wingspan: When there is a mass school shooting, do other school districts analyze their own procedures?

Waldrip: “Yes, we do. It’s not something that we do just when there’s an incident. We continually analyze and monitor the things we do in regards to school security.”

Wingspan: In the area of procedures, what things are currently in place to ensure that staff members know what to do in an active shooter situation? What kinds of training do they go through?  

In response to the above question, the district sent the list below via email.

  • Active shooter training – everyone in our district has had this training. We have videos for new employees and we will also review the need periodically to have comprehensive refresher training
  • Our campuses are on a 3 year rotation for comprehensive safety audits
  • Kevin Haller and his folks due random safety checks at our campuses. They try to enter the building through alternate entrances. They also enter a building without ID to see how far they can get into the a building before someone stops them and checks for ID.
  • We do National Incident Management System Training with all our administrators. This training enables our campus administrators to interact and work with first responders should an incident or threat at one of our campuses occur. Here’s a link to more information:
  • We do twice the number of lockdown drills at our campuses that are required by law
  • We have a Choose To Care tip line that has been in place for a number of years. Posters for this tip line are spread throughout the campuses and we encourage students to use it regularly. All tips go directly to Kevin Haller.
  • We have a District Crisis Management Plan
  • Every year we do a Safe Schools Survey with our students
  • We monitor social media for threats or suspicious information
  • SROs are at all our secondary campuses and they regularly patrol our elementary campuses. Each SRO has a sidearm and an automatic rifle in a safe in their office. These rifles are brought into the building with officer in the morning when they arrive and they leave with officers in the evening when they depart. The officer is the only person with access to the safe.
  • The SAFER program has been in place here in Frisco ISD for a number of years. It allows first responders to access our building cameras en route to the scene. This enable the first responders to formulate a plan prior to arrival.

Wingspan: Are there going to be more policies added after Parkland?

Waldrip: “There could be. Going back to your original question, do we analyze, evaluate our policies in general. We do and we do make changes and modifications periodically so things could come out of this. It just depends on what our analysis reveals but we’ll certainly look at it.”

Neha Perumalla
Having spent more than a decade in Frisco ISD from 2002-2014, Dr. Mike Waldrip returned to the district this summer as the new superintendent after serving in the same position at Coppell ISD from 2014-17.

Wingspan: How can students help prevent something like this from happening?

Waldrip: “We have a student tip line, Choose to Care. We monitor that, those tips that come across that tip line actually go to our director of security, they go directly to him. We also depend on students to tell us anything that they learn or may know about if they heard a  student say something or if they see suspicious activity. We always want our students to come forward, even if it turns out to be nothing. We would rather be safe than sorry in those situations.”

Wingspan: What would the district say to parents to ensure that students are in the safest environment possible?

Waldrip: “There are a number of trainings and measures we take. Or security director they actually do random security checks when they come onto your campuses. They’ll try to get in a  door that’s not in the front door. Once they’re in the building they’ll take their badges off and see how long it takes for someone to stop them. We also do safety audits periodically and just go through an audit checklist to make sure that our campuses are as safe as they can possibly be.”

Wingspan: What’s the role of the partnership between Frisco ISD and Frisco Police as far as school resource officers go?

Waldrip: “Those resource officers are actually employed by both entities. They are employed by the school district and by the city of Frisco. We work very closely with the police department of the city of Frisco. SAFER is a collaboration with the Frisco police and fire departments in the event that there was an incident where they had to respond. They actually had access to the cameras in the building through the computers in their police cars and fire vehicles. So enroute to a particular campus they would already know what’s going on inside the building if they were alerted to something before they would ever arrive.”

Wingspan: How does the school district handle it if there’s a tip on a student bringing a weapon to a school? What are the consequences of that?

Waldrip: “There are several things. Anytime we get a tip, we immediately contact the police department, our security personnel, campus personnel, and any number of individuals and we go to work to try to number one, verify that it’s an credible threat and then try to find that individual and then once we do, if it was true, that a student had a weapon or something like that on campus then that’s an expellable offense.”

Wingspan: Mental health seems to be a possible issue in many school shootings, does the district have any procedures to help any students that may need mental health counseling?

Waldrip: “Yes, we actually have a counseling crisis management team that works with campus personnel to counsel groups, individuals, that suffer psychological trauma when there’s a traumatic incident of some kind.”

Wingspan: Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

Waldrip: “It’s a very sad thing, I think for everyone and I think it makes us all thankful that it wasn’t us, but at the same time, we’re devastated that it had to happen at all and I think anything that we can do-it’s really a community issue I think that we all need to be aware of that we all need to be conscious about. Anytime anyone gives us any kind of information with regard to a possible threat of any kind, we take it very seriously and we act on it immediately. We want to keep our students as safe as possible.”

In addition to the above information provided by Superintendent Waldrip, FISD Assistant Director of Communications Meghan Cone provided additional information to some of the same questions asked of Waldrip during Friday’s phone interview.

Wingspan: How can students help prevent something like this from happening?

Cone: “Frisco ISD is really deliberate about trying to foster a sense of connectedness in our schools and to help students make friends and feel at home on their schools and so we have to organize counseling department in our efforts with regard  to the whole child. We do training with students that we call student ambassadors and those kids are some of the members of the Pulse Club on campus as part of their job is to connect with kids who might not have any friends or work to promote this sense of connectedness and inclusion and hopefully almost like the student ambassadors to help us with those mental health issues that our counselors support. Students can play a role in that sense of just helping make sure that kids are not slipping through the cracks.”

Wingspan: What’s the role of the partnership between Frisco ISD and Frisco Police as far as school resource officers go?

Cone: “That technology would allow for example, say there was an incident going on. En route to the emergency, police officers could pull up cameras inside the school and try to see the location of a shooter, or say they were outside, preparing to go in. They’re able to access video footage from inside our schools in real time. So that really provides them with a lot of information that helps them best respond in the event of an emergency.”

Below is the Frisco ISD email sent to the Frisco ISD community on Feb. 15, 2018.

“After the shootings in Florida yesterday, Frisco ISD would like to express to our community that the safety of our students in their learning environments is of the utmost importance. By state law, campuses are required to practice drills for all types of circumstances on a regular basis and are required to report drills and trainings to the district and the state. We feel confident that should an incident occur, our campus staffs can handle crisis situations.

We ask our parents and students to understand that even joking about firearms on a campus leads to an immediate and swift investigation of the threat when campus and/or district leaders become aware of such conversations.

An increased police presence may be noticed around our campuses the remainder of the week, strictly as a precaution after yesterday’s incident in Florida. Many other districts around the nation are following suit. Our hearts go out to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida during this difficult time.”

More information on the school district’s security policies can be found here.