Sunday, December 16, 2012

Where Do We Go From Here?

By now I had hoped to have more details related to the shootings in Connecticut, but we simply do not. We do know for sure that a gunman used at least one of his firearms to shoot his way through a glass entrance way, enter a school, and kill staff and students. The speculation as to why he did this is just that and it appears that we might not have any concrete answers for days or weeks.

We also know that the school had security measures in place such as a front door buzzer, sign in procedures, and video cameras. They had prepared for an event like this by conducting lock down, stay in place, and evacuation drills. By ALL accounts thus far, staff and students followed all directions, procedures, and protocols. Law enforcement has indicated that these procedures most certainly saved additional lives.

As parents, you have probably spent some time this weekend speaking to your children, at some level, about the events that unfolded. If you have not, and would like resources on how to speak to your children, please follow this link  or give me a call.  I am also sure that many parents, students, and staff feel somewhat uneasy about returning to school, or sending their children back to school.  I have interacted with many parents who would like bullet proof glass on all windows and doors, metal detectors at each entrance, multiple police officers at each entrance every day, and some would like to see administrators and teachers trained and armed.

I can appreciate the emotions that are flowing right now. A quick Google search titled “Shootings in the United States in 2012” retrieves a list of shootings that have taken place including a movie theater, a temple, a church, a college, a football stadium parking lot, a grocery store, a “big box” retail store, and a school.  Remember this was just for 2012.

The moral of the story is that there are bigger issues to be discussed beyond bulletproof glass, constant police presence, metal detectors, and arming school personnel. There are issues of gun control, mental health services, and parameters for conduct on school property.  I have an opinion on each and I will share them loudly and uncomfortably if necessary at the right time and in the right forum where they might actually lead to some action.

For now, as your superintendent, I want you to know that I have never thought that what happened in Connecticut could not happen at West Genesee, or any other school for that matter.
  • We plan, train for, and conduct drills on a very regular basis. 
  • We coordinate with law enforcement daily about ways to keep our children as safe as possible.  
  • We create scenarios and conduct tabletop exercises.  
  • We have a million ways to instantly communicate.  
  • We do have buzzer systems, sign in procedures, and cameras.  
All of those systems will be under review as we begin the school day Monday. We will also have additional police presence in our buildings as the last of the details present themselves from Connecticut.

There will be a root cause as to why children and staff were killed in Connecticut on Friday. We will learn from those causes and adjust our procedures. At the end of the day, however, we cannot let these acts paralyze us from living.  If we do, we would never set foot in a school, college, church, temple, store, athletic stadium, movie theater, or shopping mall again (plus other places where shootings have occurred prior to 2012).

From struggle and setback MUST come the inner and outer strength to rise above.  We cannot waste this tragedy. We WILL overcome.

Thank you,