District 109 continues to examine security for students
Most common securities concerns from district parents
DEERFIELD — Making student safety a top priority for 2013, Deerfield Public Schools District 109 officials said they have compiled a list of answers adressing some of the district parents’ concerns in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14, 2012, and have made it available on its website.
Michael Shapiro, principal at Shepard Middle School and co-chair of the district’s Safety Committee, said the district and school board members took every concern seriously when compiling their responses.
“One thing is coping with what happened and reassuring the community we’re taking (safety) very seriously,” Shapiro said. “I really don’t think parents doubted our plans, but we do keep them confidential and revise them as needed.”
At the Jan. 14 board of education meeting, Supt. Renee Goier said the reason for the secrecy is to prevent a person with “malicious intent” from knowing where students are during an emergency situation.
“But rest assured, the safety committee reviews these things (plans) regularly and staff is trained on safety drills,” Goier said. “As in Newtown, we have many of the same safety procedures in place, many of those procedures which limited the loss of life, as dreadful as it was.”
Goier said she and her staff received more than 200 responses and questions from parents following the Sandy Hook massacre, and that while it was impossible to respond to each parent, they created a list of the most frequently asked questions.
“What we did find was an incredible outpouring of volunteering and wanting to help become a part of the solution,” Goier said. “I think this community is extraordinary and can really come together when there is a crisis concerning a child.”
One of the more common questions, according to the form, was concerning the addition of armed guards or metal detectors to all schools. Goier said that may not be the right path to follow.
“We want a nice, healthy environment for the students,” Goier said. “We want to make sure we don’t move into a military-like setting.”
Another wide concern from parents involved a lapse in some security procedures, such as front doors propped open for deliveries, or for visitors (parents) when there is a school activity going on, such as a play.
“We have to watch that,” Goier said. “That is something we have to watch. But please note we have had the district (security) tested.”
Shapiro said the district works with an outside firm to test the strength of its security measures, such as if a staff member is following protocol for allowing people in the buildings.
“The security firm would come into the building and say they’ve got a meeting with someone, to see if personnel asks the right questions and we have done very well,” Shapiro said.
Goier said, while the district has been found to be one of the best schools the firm had found, they could always do better.
“One incident could be the one we don’t want to happen,” Goier said.
The district’s response to those frequently asked questions can be found on the district web site, www.dps019.org.