“Schools are supposed to be safe places,” said Dr. Nicholas Stirling, superintendent of Valley Stream District 30, responding to the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14.
The shooting left 26 people dead including 20 children, all first-graders, and six staff members. The tragedy has left Valley Stream school officials reviewing their own security procedures to ensure that students and staff have a safe and secure environment.
School officials agree that Sandy Hook Elementary School did not appear to have a faulty security plan. Rather, there was little that could be done to stop a mentally ill and heavily armed shooter.
“We always are reviewing our security procedures,” said Stirling, who oversees three elementary schools serving nearly 1,500 students. “When it hits close to home you want to take a second look at what you’re doing.”
District 24 Superintendent Dr. Edward Fale said that he thinks it could be time to start putting more fences around schools, especially in the front of buildings. He said that while the district maintains good control over who comes into its schools, there is less control over who comes onto the school grounds.
“How do your prevent an insane person from coming onto school property with a loaded gun?” Fale said. “Realistically, there should be a fence around the school, there really should.”
Fale noted that there is only one entrance for visitors during the school day at each of the three elementary schools. There is a monitor at each entrance and the lobbies are under video surveillance.
He said the district will review its security plans with a safety consultant from BOCES.
District 13 Superintendent Dr. Adrienne Robb-Fund said the district’s security plan was reviewed just last week, before the school shooting. But in light of the tragedy, she will request that the Nassau County Police Department take another look. “Given the events of last week, it makes you want to reflect and just look at it just one more time,” she said.