The families of two students killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School attack in 2012 have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the town of Newtown, Connecticut and the Board of Education. As an educator, this is very concerning to me. As a school safety consultant, this pushes me even harder to get the word out to school districts that we must do everything within our power to improve our schools’ level of safety.
We now know about the practices that must be followed if we are to attain a high level of safety in our buildings. The lawsuit against the Newtown School Board alleges that Sandy Hook Elementary School had security policies & procedures in place that teachers were not able to follow on the day of the attack. Specifically, the classroom doors could only be locked from the outside with keys and the front of the school did not have security glass. The suit also states that there was a substitute teacher in one of the classrooms where students were killed; this teacher purportedly did not have a room key and had not received training on safety protocol.
What this means for the rest of us is that we need to take an honest look at our physical site vulnerabilities and take action to improve all areas that leave us at risk. We also need to review our prevention and intervention programming, and our behavioral assessment practices. We need to make every effort to put into place recognized safety and preventive practices so we can quiet the voice of fear and eliminate that small nagging worry that perhaps we haven’t look quite closely enough at all of our practices.
If you need assistance with your safety improvement efforts, read this.