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School Safety Examined in Response to CT Shooting

Board president demands action on security in Parsippany schools by end of January.

The Parsippany Board of Education held a moment of silence during its meeting Thursday night in memory of the 20 children and six adults gunned down last week at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Board President Dr. Frank Calabria said it was difficult for him to find the words to express his feelings about “this unspeakable horror.”

“Today I was at an elementary school, and I saw these little sixth- and seventh-graders walking,” Calabria said. “It was all I could do to not hug every single one of them.”

Calabria has also suggested the board perform a good day each day for 26 days in honor of the 26 victims. He also suggested expediting a district-wide study that will help the board make recommendations as to what the district can to protect students.

Calabria said situations like what happened in Newtown have placed school districts in a scary situation. For instance, he said there was a truck up the road from one of the schools the other day.

“Ordinarily, that would be OK,” the board president said. “But now we have administrators calling police and checking on this, that and the other thing.”

Some individuals have even begun discussing the possibility of arming teachers, he said.

Security at Parsippany Schools

Calabria said he would like action done to secure Parsippany schools no later than the end of January.

“We have to act quickly on it,” he said. “It’s going to be done.”

Paul Saxton, the district’s interim director of personnel, said Superintendent Dr. LeRoy Seitz is in the process of developing a district-wide committee to bring in various insights and review the district’s processes and policies.

Saxton, who is sitting in for Seitz while he is ill, said the committee would represent different stakeholders in the community, the police department and others with expertise in security.

Board member Fran Orthwein requested serious consideration for putting funds back in the 2012-13 budget for a full-time School Resource Officer at each of the district’s two high schools. For the past two years, there has only been one SRO going back and forth between the two schools.

Resident Tim Berrios suggested he would feel better if both high schools were included on police patrols.

“Once or twice a day, a patrol officer could stop by the school and maybe check in with the principal to see how things are going,” Berrios said.

Berrios also mentioned he has never been escorted to the offices at Parsippany High School after being buzzed in during the day, suggesting that procedure be changed.

Saxton said he believes police patrolling the schools is an “ongoing process” and noted that the committee Seitz is developing will also address physical and internal school security procedures.

“Be assured the areas of concern you raised are being addressed,” Saxton said.

Gordon Rizzuto December 22, 2012 at 04:25 PM
I definitely agree that we need security increased after that terrible tragedy. I do not believe arming teachers is the answer though. There's a reason why teachers are teachers and not cops. I don't believe more guns is the answer. Having somebody escort people when they get to the office is an excellent idea. Also we need to all be friends with one another make everybody feel welcome feel at home. Invite the kid who doesn't have anybody to sit with at lunch to eat with you. Be partners with the kid who always has trouble finding a partner. It doesn't always take weapons to stop shootings you'f be surprised acts of kindness could be a very POWERFUL weapon.
CAZ December 22, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Agree. Excellent comment. Kindness can go a long way. Also I feel students who may notice others being left or becoming an 'outcast' should not be afraid to go to a teacher or guidance to make them aware. The children, no matter of the age, should be encouraged to speak up, even if they just feel uncomfortable about something. You never know, early intervention could possibly save lives.
clyde donovan December 22, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Columbine High School had an armed officer in the school at the time of the shootings. A lot of good that did. You can turn your schools into kiddie prisons in hope that they're safe, but what happens when the children go to and from school. A lunatic could kill 40 kids on one bus. Parsippany might need to invest in fully armored buses quipped with bullet proof windows. Maybe it's safer for all of you to home school your kids in a secure bomb shelter in your basement..
Bob Crawford December 22, 2012 at 05:35 PM
This is far too critical an issue to be left in the hands of Superintendent Seitz alone. What is needed is for an external committee of informed citizens to be convened by the BOE president to take an immediate and independent look at the school's security issues and make recommendations to the BOE and the community as to how best to proceed. That committee can include the Superintendent as he will be an important source of information but it must be made up of and led by people who have relevant experience and knowledge and who have no vested interest in the status quo. Given the urgency of the situation and the end of January deadline that Dr. Calabria has called for that committee should be formed immediately.
clyde donovan December 22, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Somehow I knew township officials and/or the BOE would use the Newtown tragedy to waste more of our tax dollars.
Frank Drebin December 22, 2012 at 07:45 PM
That's it armed guards in schools. Who is going to do the background checks? I know the same people that did the check on the "Football Coach" Calabria has also suggested the board perform a good day each day for 26 days in honor of the 26 victims Why does it take a “this unspeakable horror.” for the BOE to perform a "good day"? Every day they should perform a good day!
Mike December 22, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Is the person walking the guest to the main office going to be carrying some type of weapon? If not all it's going to take is that guest blowing the brains out of the person on duty and then shooting the SRO and then anyone in their path until the police come and then he or she will kill themselves. There is no sure way to stop anyone from shooting up a school. The best way is to lock the school up and no one is allowed in school. If the person is a student they must show their ID to get in. If it's a parent bringing in a lunch forget about it. This will teach the parent to make sure the student has everything before the student leaves for school. Again there is no sure way to keep someone out.
Carol December 23, 2012 at 01:42 AM
I think part of the problem is that Dr Calabria doesn't l know that soxth and seventh graders are in Middle school not elementary school. I do believe that we have to reexmine our policies but I think our elected officials need to know which school levels they are visiting.
Carol M. December 23, 2012 at 12:59 PM
"Saxton, who is sitting in for Seitz while he is ill, said the committee would represent different stakeholders in the community, the police department and others with expertise in security." I guess you missed this statement that was made at the meeting and also included in the article you are commenting on.
VietNam Vet December 29, 2012 at 06:56 AM
Hey Gordy, please keep in mind that the shooter was a student and not a visitor to the school. So what would you gain by escorting visitors and let the students run wild.
Sick of the trolls January 02, 2013 at 02:56 PM
Mr. Brown, you could not be more wrong. The shooter was a 20 year old man. He was not even a visitor, he broke in to the school. I know it's difficult, with having to keep watch on this "odummer" guy all the time since you're the only one who can see him, but try and keep up with the rest of the conversation, ok?
Sick of the trolls January 02, 2013 at 03:00 PM
Holy cow, "clyde donovan" made a sane, rational comment that actually is backed up by facts. My world is spinning out of control...
Sick of the trolls January 02, 2013 at 03:01 PM
And then it's back to the same old "clyde." Hey, buddy.
Sick of the trolls January 02, 2013 at 03:02 PM
Well, Frank, we know we can always count on you and your vast experience with Police Squad to keep our children safe.

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