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'Breakdown in communication' | School intruder drill turns into security scare at Buna Elementary

An unannounced, poorly communicated drill leads principal to calling 911, deputies rushing to the school

BUNA, Texas — The superintendent of Buna ISD is apologizing after what was intended to be an 'intruder drill' turned into a scary situation for teachers and students at Buna Elementary School. 

Dr. Donny Lee said a district security officer disguised as an intruder showed up at the school Tuesday for an unannounced safety drill. 

"We’ve done these drills before but with one critical piece included and that’s the communication piece," Lee said.

He said the principal called 911, and Jasper County Sheriff's Office deputies rushed to the school on high alert believing there was an actual threat to the school. 

Under normal circumstances, the superintendent would have been told ahead of time, and at least one administrator on campus would know about the drill before it was performed, Dr. Lee told 12News. Sheriff's deputies are also normally notified when drills are planned.

But for this drill, no one notified the school, the district or sheriff's deputies of the drill.  

"None of those things took place, and so they came flying down 96," Lee said. "They’re not happy about it, because one, you put officers lives in danger, not to mention just time wasted." 

Lee said staff and administrators followed protocol and went into a lock down as they've been trained for. 

He said teachers, staff and students all did an "amazing job" in the situation they believed involved an actual intruder. 

"My administrators were not aware, so when they went to the elementary school, we’ve got kids on the playground, we’ve got little babies on the exterior of the building, they see somebody trying to get into the building, and they immediately think, and rightfully so, that an intruder is trying to get in," Lee said. 

Lee couldn't comment on whether disciplinary measures were taken but says this issue will be addressed quickly, swiftly and effectively. 

"We take the safety of every one of our cougars very seriously and that’s why these drills were put in place initially. We do apologize that there was a breakdown in communication and that undue stress and anxiety were caused to parents, teachers and staff members," Lee said.

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