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Letter: Safety of Lacey Students is 'Highest Priority' in District Schools

Superintendent Dr. Sandra Brower addresses the Lacey community in a letter on the Sandy Hook shooting

A letter written by Superintendent Dr. Sandra Brower on Dec. 15, addressing the Sandy Hook shooting.

Dear Parents and Guardians:

We remain in shock and deep sadness as we are hearing the news and seeing the images coming to us from Newtown, Connecticut where an unspeakable and senseless act of violence occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School yesterday. We are all heartbroken for the families and we join a nation in mourning and in prayer.  

The safety of your children is our highest priority in Lacey Township. Feeling safe at school is critical for our students to learn and to be happy at school. As school administrators we are taught to look for the lessons to be learned after a school tragedy so that we can be proactive and responsive in our own school community. In response to this tragedy, school principals and I will discuss with all staff the safety procedures regarding visitors in our schools. In addition, we will again be carefully reviewing our procedures for conducting lock down drills. And last evening, I requested the Lacey Township Police Department provide additional presence in and around our schools as well as increased visibility in our schools during this very sensitive time.            

My thoughts are with our Lacey parents as you consider how to talk with your child in the wake of this event in Connecticut. I wondered if you may find yourself asking what you can do to help your child. First, I ask that you consider familiarizing yourself with some of the resources we have provided for you to help you as you help your child through this emotional time. Please speak with your child about the event as you reassure your son or daughter that school is a safe place and that teachers are always ensuring their safety. It will be beneficial to emphasize the importance of following the directions of teachers, support staff and school leaders during drills. This reassurance by you will also provide an opportunity for your child to express concerns. We will be doing the same in the classroom with time-limited, developmentally appropriate discussions and answers to questions. Secondly, please monitor the media to protect your child from overexposure which can contribute to stress and anxiety. Depending on the age of your child, be mindful when having an adult discussion that your child may be listening and may struggle to understand what they are hearing. And lastly, if you observe uncharacteristic behaviors in your child, do not hesitate to contact your child’s counselor.

As a parent myself, I recognize that parents need reassurance as well. Please know that our school principals and staff are committed to ensuring the safety of our students and staff  by implementing and consistently reviewing and updating our Safe Schools and Crisis Management Plans. In addition to training this summer, just last week our District Crisis Response Team comprised of school and district leaders, a teacher, our district nurse coordinator, police and a parent set several goals this year which include the development of classroom crisis response protocols and  revisions to our current plan to ensure our plans are current. In addition to our District Crisis Response Team, each school has its own School Response Team. Teams are comprised of staff members who have specialized training, knowledge and interest to serve the school in this way. In the end, it takes each and every person to stay vigilant and aware of suspicious behavior. We will continue to teach awareness and we will continue to encourage reporting of suspicious behaviors.

In memory and in respect of those who have lost their lives in Connecticut, please be aware that throughout the district, flags are being flown at half- staff and will remain so through Tuesday.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to us in any way.

Sincerely, 

Sandra D. Brower

Resources for Coping with School Tragedies

Michele Flannery December 17, 2012 at 01:30 PM
I am so happy that you are our new superintendent, you have done more for this district in your short time here and they are not just words; you really mean it heart and soul. I know you have done so much for my son in his new Autistic class and you have shown genuine concern for him to succeed and have always been a woman of your word! It has meant the world to me and has made a huge difference in him at a very critical age at this time. As I have learned with my older son, the age of 14 is an intrical age that they could go either way. I am fortunate that my older son listened to me and I am very proud to say he is really excelling. I have so much hope with this school district for the future with DrSandra Brower at the helm as well as our teachers who are very important to implement the plans. God bless you all. Thank You, Michele Flannery
Silver dollar December 17, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Michele you have written a excellent comment .As I commented 15 months ago Just give her a chance ,and she will prove herself , as she has done . I find her very easy to communicate with willing to listen .Keep up the good work Dr Brower.
Jessica December 17, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Hello Dr. Brower, I am a parent of a 1st and 4th grader at Cedar Creek Elementary School. I am writing you today to get information on what steps can be taken to implement mandatory armed security guards in all public schools. We cannot control the mentally ill or gun use in this country. The only logical action we can take to protecting our children is by having armed guards at every school. It is the only direct way to deter unlawful entry with illegal intention. After the rise in shootings lately, it is time we take action against violent crime, especially within our school system. We all know that this phenomenon is only going to rise and happen again and again, probably now more so than ever. While we are all heartbroken and grieving with every tragic event, we need to stop ignoring a very real and present danger and be proactive. Having a camera and locked front doors will not stop this! Having our children hide in closets will not stop this! Can you please tell me what I can do or what is required to begin this process before another massacre happens. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and what we can do to keep our children safe. Thank you for your time and attention, Jessica Heim
Silver dollar December 17, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Jessica The words you have written will get to very few people .Want more action and a good response TONIGHT 12-17-2012 Monday go to the school board meeting at 7:30 , Get up and tell them all how scared we all are for our children My grandchildren go to Manchester and I plan to let them know how I feel about there school security.
Lance Corona December 17, 2012 at 11:02 PM
Jessica, calm down. I understand your concern but your fears are unwarranted. We have made great strides when it comes to protecting our children. Remember, it was only 40-50 years ago that school children were hiding under their wooden desks for protection from a nuclear attack. Now we have closets and empty police cars in front of the schools.
Lance Corona December 17, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Jessica, we have made great strides. It was only 40-50 years ago that school children were hiding under their wooden desks during the threat of a nuclear attack. At least the schools are providing closets for the students to hide in. Besides take a drive through town tommorrow past all of the schools. I'm sure you will notice a police vehicle in front of every school. There are no officers, but I'm sure the vehicle will scare any would be wrongdoers.
Lacey Mom December 18, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Dr. Brower, I'm glad you are addressing school security, it has always bothered me that no one has ever asked me for identification when picking up my children, they have been through Cedar Creek, Mill Pond, Middle school & now high school and they have no idea who I am when I ask for my child.
Christina December 18, 2012 at 03:58 AM
There is no security at the front High School door.You walk right in,and there is someone sitting at a desk asking you to sign in.That needs to change.All these schools need to have a camera on that door,and no person should enter after school starts without having to be buzzed in. There are going to be copy cats who will want their names splashed all over the papers,etc. don't let our schools be open to any of their sickness.
Forked River Mom December 18, 2012 at 01:49 PM
While putting cameras at the front door and a person sitting in a desk asking you to sign in is a great idea, it does not help the fact that someone can barge right in and get by. We need security guards at every front door of our schools. Anything to deter these hopeless mental deamons from stepping foot in our schools. I'm sure Dr Brower is doing everything in her power to make our schools safer, and I greatly appreciate that, but unless police or security are present for the entire school day, I will not feel comfortable any more. It pained me to send my child off to school yesterday. At drop off, I did not see any police present, I drove by during the day, I did not see police present, and at pick up, I did not see police present. I understand this cannot happen overnight, but until it does happen, I will not feel safe for my child anymore. I have full confidence in the administration and teachers, but I NEVER EVER want to be in the situation that these loving parents from Sandy Hook Elementary are going through. Just heart wrenching!!!
Jessica December 18, 2012 at 05:36 PM
http://www.change.org/petitions/u-s-department-of-education-implement-mandatory-armed-security-guards-in-all-public-schools

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