School safety questioned at Canfield school board meeting

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By Amanda Tonoli


Canfield School safety Meeting

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Students, parents and citizens spoke to the Canfield Board Of Education during a March 21, 2018 meeting on the topic of school safety. One of those speaking was Ginny Litwin, a parent of three children in the district

Silence resounded at a Canfield Board of Education meeting when Superintendent Alex Geordan asked principals if their teachers make up their own safety plans.

“That says it all right there,” said parent Vicky Palmer.

Parent Ginny Litwin said the lack of emergency planning, or lack of student, parent and teacher knowledge about emergency plans leaves parents nervous and students upset.

“It is mass chaos waiting to happen,” she said. “[Students] are sitting ducks waiting in that classroom, and nobody knows what to do.”

Both Litwin and parent Melanie Gaffney said they’ve heard of teachers telling students a number of different plans in case of a shooting attack, including jumping out of a window, running for the woods and walking to another school on a busy street.

Gaffney said there are very simple things the district can be doing to improve overall safety, including lockdown drills, which are cost-free, and budgeting to have at least one student-resource officer per building. Currently, the district has only one for four buildings.

Geordan said his administration would soon be bringing a proposal to the board for a second resource officer.

But Gaffney said that’s still not enough.

“So there will not be one [officer] in each school?” she asked.

Geordan said the decision is based on approval from the police chief.

Chief Chuck Colucci said getting another resource officer in the schools is a great step in the right direction. The goal is to eventually have one in every school,” he said.

Students also joined the conversation.

Senior Anne Sinclair said a group of concerned students came up with a proposal full of ideas to prevent a school shooting from happening in Canfield. Suggestions included having school photo IDs, additional training for both teachers and students and creating a crisis team of teachers who have access to and training with a non-lethal device to protect students should the need arise.

“We want to figure out how to stop a school shooting before it begins,” she said.

Geordan said the proposal is being discussed between himself, other administration and Colucci.

Board President Dave Wilkeson said another angle to approach safety is to limit the amount of information circulating.

“We need to consider what we are putting out there, meaning more information in the hands of the kids makes situations more predictable for a shooter,” he said.

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