The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut might have caused stress to parents in Grandview Heights, but it didn’t cause any of them to request additional security measures, according to school board president Grant Douglass. Both Douglass and school super Ed O’Reilly said no additional security measures were in place since the shooting, although a review of the District’s Emergency Response plan will be discussed at the February board retreat. This is good news, considering the hasty responses other school districts are throwing together, which have the impression of panic rather than carefully considered planning.
O’Reilly in the TVN
A December 30 story in the TVN quoted the superintendent on school security.
O’Reilly told ThisWeek Monday, Dec. 17, that the district did not take any additional action as students returned to class for the first time since the tragedy. “We have the crisis plan in place already,” he said. “The Grandview Police Department did have officers out in front of all three buildings (Monday morning).”
As I remember the standard routine at the schools, there has always been police in front of the schools at both drop off and pick up times. The focus has been on traffic near the schools, speeders and other law breakers were closely watched. It was not unusual to see a lights flashing traffic stop at those times.
The only real change in school security mentioned in the article was a video security system.
“The district plans to install security-door systems at each school, O’Reilly said. The first will be installed at Edison Intermediate-Middle School. School secretaries will be able to see and speak to those seeking entry to the building, and anyone visiting the school will have to be buzzed in, O’Reilly said.”
The school board
Following the highly publicized press conference by the NRA, in which they suggested that more police presence at schools would be needed, I was expecting that the board may have received requests from parents to return the School Resource Officer back to the school. For a short time in 2003-4 this was a full time position at the schools. I asked the board members what reaction and requests they had received after the Sandy Hook shootings, this reply was from board president Douglass.
“We are very saddened by the tragic and senseless acts that took place in Sandy Hook. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims and their families along with all those who have been touched by this horrific event.
Although no parent that we are aware of has recently directly asked about new security measures it has been an ongoing issue that the Board, Administration, Teachers and Staff have taken very seriously. In the past few years many measures have been put in place to make our District safer. Prior to Sandy Hook the BOE had already listed four topics to be discussed in depth at the Feb. 2013 retreats. One of which is our District’s Emergency Response plan and testing of that plan.”
History of the SRO
I wrote up a detailed story that gave the history of the SRO position at Grandview schools. If you have any interest in school security, I suggest you follow the link and read that post.
This is the tl;dr version.
In May of 2002 Shewring (former police chief) and former super Allen began pressing both the city council and the school board to fund a SRO position at the school. Even though the board was aware that the issue was controversial, the board voted to approve it in Oct. 2002 at a special morning meeting, attended by no parents. Although the city council had asked the board to hold a special board meeting for the public before the vote, no meeting was held. The position needed funding from the city council, and a number of meetings were held. The board fought hard for Allen’s SRO, ignoring all parents who spoke against it, and the warnings the federal grants would be unfunded.
The SRO position was filled, using funds from the city and grants, and began full time work at the schools.
The grants dried up shortly afterward, as the money was diverted to the Department of Homeland Security. By 2004 the SRO was canceled.
What are the chances of a shooting in Grandview?
Making a rational response to the Sandy Hook shootings requires us to have a good grasp of the chances it could happen here. Unfortunately, data on school shooting incidents are not readily available, and the definition of what makes a school shooting is not clear cut. For instance, in researching I came across mention of a shooting at OSU in 2010. I had no memory of this incident. A little searching reminded me there was a custodial worker who shot two supervisors and himself. No students were involved, it was isolated in a university maintenance building. But it was on the campus, and fit the definition of a school shooting. If you use the broadest meaning of “school” and “shooting”, there are a shocking number of incidents.
I found a story by a Forensic Psychologist that seems to have good numbers, and limits it to k-12 schools. He used infoplease.com to do research and came up with these numbers.
The chances of any particular K-12 school in the United States experiencing a shooting incident in any given year is approximately 1 in 53,925.
Breaking the numbers down a little further reveals the following statistics:
The chances of a school shooting taking place in a US high school in any given year:1 in 21,000.
The chances of a school shooting taking place in a US elementary or middle school in any given year:1 in 141,463.
Your chances of dying in a car crash in 2013 is approximately 1 in 7775
Car crashes are way down in this country, advances in safety equipment has made deaths on the road the lowest since records were first kept. When you compare the chances, schools are remarkably safe. Grandview police stationed outside the schools to monitor cars and traffic is the correct allocation of personnel, when you look at the numbers.
The reaction of Grandview parents to Sandy Hook – which seems to be “not my kids, not at our school” – is very rational. However, given the large number of schools in the country, it is also a sure bet there will be more shootings somewhere. It is rational to take action on a national level to work for more strict gun control laws that limit the access to assault rifles like those used in many school shootings.