District 15 responds to concerned parents after shooting

When students came back to Cedar Creek Community School Monday, it was business as usual.

There were about eight calls to the school and three in-person discussions with people worried about school security, said Principal Darin Hahn of District 15 largest elementary school.

After a man with a gun walked into a Connecticut elementary school and killed 27 children and adults Friday, “everyone is questioning the safety of schools,” he said.

But the school has safety procedures in place to protect students and staff and everyone is trained to know what their role is in the case of an emergency, Hahn said.

Cedar Creek is just as safe to day as it was on Friday, he said.

While the law enforcement continues to investigate the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., District 15 principals will be looking at their schools and evaluating their safety procedures.

Some have asked if the school should lock the front door as it does the rest of the doors, Hahn said.

But they have to balance the safety needs and still be an elementary school, he said.

“We want people to feel they are welcome here,” Hahn said.

Visitors to the schools are required to sign in, including community volunteers, he said.

Hahn would prefer to work with law enforcement to see what the changes it would recommend.

He is concerned about over-reaction to the shooting, Hahn said.

There was one man who entered one of thousands of elementary schools open that day and acted in a detrimental way to students, he said.

“He fought his way into the school and did horrific things,” Hahn said.

Seeing the photos of the kindergarten victims made him think of all the student he has worked with, he said.

“You just don’t hurt kids,” Hahn said.

People are shaken because little kids have been hurt and killed, but “we don’t want to over-react,” he said.

“We want the kids to feel safe, but not make the school feel like a (prison),” Hahn said.

While Hahn plans to review the school’s security procedures, he does not expect any changes in light of Sandy Hook.

CCCS also had a plan for any of the school’s 800 students deeply affected by the Newtown shooting.

If the students want to talk about it, the two school social workers, the school nurse and he are available for them, Hahn said.

District response

Since Friday’s shooting, District 15 Superintendent Ed Saxton has fielded two calls and three emails related to Sandy Hook.

One person suggested locking all of the doors and another encouraged the district to keep working hard at keeping the students safe, he said.

Another recognized that district already has procedures in place to protect the students, according to Saxton.

Districtwide the students have five lockdown drills every year for potential emergency situations, Saxton said.

There are also four fire drills and two tornado drills every year, he said.

The district and the schools are continually looking at the safety procedures and policies, not just when tragedies happen, Saxton said.

“We spend a tremendous amount of time keeping kids safe on the way to school, at school and on the playground,” he said.

“The problem is the person with a weapon willing to discharge with no regard to human life,” Saxton said.

It all depends on how driven that person is, he said.

Tragedies affect everyone in America because everyone is a big family, Saxton said.

Saxton has been in schools for 55 years as a student, teacher and administrator and he cannot fathom what the parents and grandparents are dealing with, he said of the Sandy Hook shooting.

Local parents have asked the schools to allow them to address the tragedy to their kids as a family, he said.

“It is an important process to allow the families to handle major issues as they see fit,” Saxton said.

Most parents are just wanting to know that their kids are safe in school and to know what the district’s safety procedure are, he said.

Tammy Sakry is at tammy.sakry@ecm-inc.com

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