Superintendent says one Buna ISD officer cleared in intruder drill incident

Buna ISD police chief not cleared

Superintendent says one Buna ISD officer cleared in intruder drill incident
Buna Elementary School (Source: BunaISD.net)

BUNA, Texas (KTRE) - The superintendent of Buna ISD says that one of the officers in Tuesday’s intruder drill has been cleared.

Dr. Donny Lee says that Officer Mike Henderson has been cleared of wrongdoing in the incident, which was what the superintendent described as an unannounced intruder drill at Buna Elementary School on Tuesday. Lee said on Tuesday afternoon that only the two officers knew about the drill, which resulted in sheriff’s deputies from Jasper County responding to the school, believing that there was an active alert on campus.

He later stated after further investigation that one staff member at the junior high knew about the drill, but no one on campus or in law enforcement was alerted ahead of time.

Deputies arrived with guns drawn, but before they shot the “intruder,” Lee says, they recognized that it was the school resource officer and he explained that they were doing a drill.

Teachers at the campus went into intruder alert mode, getting the children inside off the playground to safety in their classrooms, hunkering down in their cubbies, and locking all the doors.

The Buna ISD Police Chief, Mark McKinley, has not been cleared as of Wednesday morning, Lee said.

Previous story: Unannounced intruder drill at Buna Elementary ‘could have been a disaster’

Lee released the following statement on Tuesday evening:

At 10:50 am today, I was notified there was an emergency at the elementary school. Specifically, that an intruder was attempting to enter the school. Our teachers, administrators, staff, and children did an amazing job locking down and staying quiet in their cubbies. One of our assistant principals called 911 and the JCSO responded accordingly. After investigation, it was determined that this was a planned intruder drill.

At no point was I or any central office administrators notified of this drill nor was JCSO. Furthermore, none of our elementary principals or staff knew about the drill. The drill was planned by a JH staff member and our two officers. Our new school resource officer did his job as instructed, but a breakdown in critical communication took place and that is unacceptable in a school district. Especially when it involves our most vulnerable children.

BISD cares about the safety and security of all 1,490 students and over 300 staff members and will continue to get better at what we are doing.

The purpose of this statement is to Inform our community and be transparent about what took place today. In addition, move forward with why we’re here...to educate and protect our students. There is no “cover-up” or secret knowledge about the drill. Three people knew. That’s it...and none of those three relayed the information forward so that the authorities could be notified. For that, I apologize on behalf of BISD.

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