State: 84 percent of school districts didn’t meet earthquake drill requirement

Yoshikazu Tsuno/ AFP/ Getty Images

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new report from the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office claims 84 percent of Tennessee schools required to perform earthquake drills did not meet those requirements during the 2016-2017 school year.

Twenty years ago, Tennessee lawmakers passed legislation requiring schools within 100 miles of the New Madrid Fault Line to conduct at least two drills during the school year.

There are currently 40 school districts (352 schools) that meet that criteria, including all of the districts in the WREG viewing area. However, according to paperwork obtained by the state agency, only two district said they had performed two earthquake drills with their students – Bells City and Lakeland City.

It must be noted that these two districts only have one school.

Earthquake Drills for K-12 Schools

Of the remaining schools, 89 failed to perform any drills during the school year and 207 reported only conducting one.

While they didn’t meet state requirements, Alamo City, Arlington Community, Bartlett City, Bradford Special, Crockett County, Dyersburg City, Hollow Rock-Bruceton Special, Lake County Lauderdale County, Lexington City, Millington Municipal and Tipton County reported that all of the schools in their district conducted at least one earthquake drill.

So, what’s going on? The problem, according to the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office, very well may be due to communication issues.

Each district, not the state, is responsible for making sure they are conducting the drills, yet the materials provided by the Tennessee Department of Education doesn’t clearly specify how many drills of each type the schools should be doing.

There were also several instances where the logs being used to track the drills were outdated and contained incorrect information.

On top of that, the rules regarding earthquake drills are not listed with those for the other drills such as fire, tornado and intruder.

After the findings were released, the Tennessee Board of Education reached out to the districts, notifying them about the requirements.

The Achievement School District has also been added to the list of districts required to perform the drills.