Letter: WB schools assessing safety and security
Op-Ed · January 02, 2013

All of us who work in education and beyond had our hearts broken by the events of the Newtown Public School District and Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Whenever schools experiences violence and the lives of children and adults are lost, we struggle to find words to express our emotions and explain how this could have happened.

I assure you that the West Branch Community School District is assessing and reviewing all aspects of our comprehensive school safety, security and student support services. While we feel we have a good system in place, there is always room for improvement. In the weeks and months ahead we will review all components of our crisis management plans. Our meetings will involving our guidance team, teachers, local police and security specialist, as well as State and Federal information resources. Some changes may even be looked upon as an inconvenience, but some may need to be made.

The fact that schools are among the safest places for children and adolescents in our country, and, in fact, crime in schools has been trending downward for more than a decade provides little solace on the heels of of such a tragic event. Accounts from Sandy Hook indicate that the school’s heroic principal and her staff had safety measures in place and had practiced their emergency procedures. As a result, children’s lives were saved and an even greater tragedy was averted.

Finally, while the past few days have been difficult, I’ve been heartened once again by the words and actions of our teachers, students and staff. The following sentiments were expressed to me multiple times by staff, “Mr. Hatfield, I would do whatever it took to protect these children!” Please know that the emails and phone calls expressing thanks, concerns and ideas for helping us improve the safety and monitoring of our students have been listened to and appreciated. In the end, it takes the commitment of a community to truly monitor and positively impact the safety and welfare of our children.

Happy Holidays!

Reminder: School resumes on Wednesday, Jan. 2. It is an early dismissal day.

School Superintendent Kevin Hatfield

and the West Branch Community School’s Staff

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