, Gloucester, MA


March 1, 2013

Letter: Speak up for students' safety, security

To the editor:

On March 27, the School Committee will hold a public hearing to discuss the issue of school security in Gloucester.

At that hearing, planned for 7 p.m. at West Parish School, anyone in our community who has any interest or ideas on the topic can come and speak, and I urge all of you to do so.

At a recent School Committee meeting, Superintendent Safier explained the security measures which currently exist in our schools, namely, creating a respectful school climate; locking the doors with buzzer systems, and a crisis response plan.

Two members of the School Committee, Kathleen Clancy and Roger Garberg, voted against a public hearing on the topic of more school security, because they feel that what is in place is enough, and that the topic did not bear more discussion.

The reality is that our pitifully weak “security” measures aren’t even properly enforced.

To wit, before the attack on Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn., no one in our school administration, at any level, had even ensured that all of the doors in the district properly locked.

It is almost March, and there are many schools in the district which still have not practiced crisis response drills. There has been no discussion as to whether the crisis response plan is the best and most effective one to have in our buildings.

When one elementary school practiced it, there was total confusion, and the children hid under their desks for over 15 minutes, terrified, while teachers tried to figure out what was happening. At the high school, when there was a gun scare in December, the staff was confused as to how to handle the crisis, and parents found a lot of confusion, as well.

There is no one in our buildings who ensures that all exterior doors remain locked at all times, and it is often the case that staff in the buildings prop open the doors for convenience.

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