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Parents Raise School Security Issues in Response to CT Shooting

Superintendent says security measures constantly reviewed and updated.

From the opening moment of silence, the specter of the Newtown, Conn. school shooting that resulted in the death of 20 young students and six teachers hung over the Monday meeting of the Hopatcong Board of Education.

The fears of  residents and the concerns of staff surfaced often during the meeting, even during a rambling discussion about the stalled contract negotiations with support staff.

Superintendent Charles Maranzano said he and the district’s administrative staff reviewed the safety protocols at recent meetings.

Those sessions were part of an on-going review of safety measures that include monthly drills for all schools, and desktop sessions with safety and crisis teams. The  district has 76  safety protocols, Maranzano said. The school’s video system is tied into the Hopatcong police station, he said.

School board president Clifford Lundin said that the board recently hired a school safety officer for the high school, even though that person is not armed, and the rooms of the schools are marked on the outside to make it easier for police to find a particular room if necessary during a incident.

He said the board discussed placing police officers in each school, but the cost approached $750,000 annually.

“We go above and beyond,” Maranzano said. “But could you stop someone every time?  Probably not.”

Several parents  were concerned about the apparent ease by which a person can enter the Hudson Maxim School. They were concerned that while Maranzano said the main entrance was locked and entry requires calling the  main office, that anyone entering with bad intent could be inside the  school before anyone noticed. It was suggested that everyone planning to enter the school show and identification card and be forced to wait outside the school until the purpose for the  visit was confirmed.

Lundin said that a school aide greets each person as they enter the school.

Maranzano said there has to be a balance  between the need for security and the need to allow parents and others with business at the  schools to enter.

He said there was a mild dispute with a parent Monday who was unhappy  they were made to wait before being allowed to enter a school.

Police officer Andrew Diamond, who said he helped draw up the school’s security measures, said that the schools should have a double entry-door system which would allow someone to wait inside the school vestibule but not in the hallways, until their identification was verified.

Such a system would slow down anyone seeking to harm anyone in the school, and allow the  to arrive. In Hopatcong, he said, police would be five minutes away.

He said the schools should have armed police in the hallways, not just to confront a possible intruder, but to deal  with domestic abuse, drugs and violence that exist in the schools.

Resident Brian Sterling asked what it would take to get funds in the  annual budget to pay for police coverage in the schools. He wondered if a question could be placed on the annual school ballot.

Lundin said  that question could be placed on the annual ballot seeking an additional budget appropriation.

Maranzano said  he welcomed comments and suggestions from residents, and urged those in attendance to email their thoughts to him.

Emily December 18, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Reading this article made me realize that all is not right with the system. Once you let a person in the building it's too late. Holding them in a vestibule is ridiculous, they are inside the building. Not letting them in is the answer. Police are 5 minutes away, again too late. Police presence in the building is what is needed. Small price to pay for a child's life. Now what really scares me is the statement about access to Hudson Maxim school, someone to great the people, come on beef it up. Protect our children at this facility. it seems to me Dr. M the balls in your court, now is the time to act.
Sam December 18, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Dectective mentioned "layering" to slow down unwanted intruders..If someone wants in then they will get in..period..Newtown had taken measures they thought we safe and still look at what happened..Things like wire mesh windows, locks and even deadbolts on all classroom doors would be the first thing to check..After how about security camera where an ID can be read on a monitor in office before buzzing in anyone..Look processes are not perfect or unstoppable but need to make sure processes are in place that can at least give time to lockdown and protect everyone is possible
Sam December 18, 2012 at 02:52 PM
And if that means waiting in a vestabul or outside for 3-5 minutes while everything is checked then so be it...
genesko December 18, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Newtown had what we have - the guy blew his way in thru a window. The police are supposed to serve and protect so let them protect. get their presence back into the schools and arm willing staff. the best defense is to level the playing field. we call our military the department of DEFENSE. not offense, defense. and we arm them to the hilt. police carry weapons not to attack other but defend against others. the bad guys will always find a way to do evil. The good guys should be well equiped to stop them as fast as possible, instead of simply doing clean up after the fact. Didnt the high school and the middle school used to have a police officer assigned to the school full time? Imagine what one armed and trained good guy can do to stop someone else -- give our kids a fighting chance as opposed to being sitting ducks while some one calls for help and hopes they arrive quickly.
Jen December 18, 2012 at 08:25 PM
I too am concerned about Hudson Maxim. Cliff Lundin says an aide greets people as they come in. How does that protect anyone. Once someone is in the building, it's too late. Another big concern is that there has been no nurse at Hudson Maxim in over a month,if something did happen, who would take care of our children. I think its unacceptable that the parents where not notified that there is no nurse at the school by Mrs. Hensz.
STATE PARK December 18, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Our tax money pays the cops to patrol the streets of Hopatcong (not to be 5 mins away) instead of sitting in the woods worrying about writing tickets there should be at least one patrol car patrolling the school grounds while school is in session. When you say there 5 mins. away you are saying they are sitting in the police station and then there not doing what there paid to do. Or are we going to wait till something happens here to open our eyes?
Sandan December 19, 2012 at 04:02 AM
1.Their needs to be a clarification to my statements to the board of education on 12-17-2012. 2.I am a retired Police Officer and my opinions are my own. 3.I believe that the police dept would most likely have an officer on scene in less then 5 minutes in an emergent situation. 4. All the doors need to be alarmed to increase security. 5. Having an unarmed security officer is a placebo to real security. 6. I felt I had to say something to try and prevent the Sandy Hook tragedy from happening in my town!
Kevin Natale December 19, 2012 at 10:09 AM
I think all teachers should carry a gun or a bat to hit or kill anyone who touches our kids I want cameras in all class rooms people no blame our aids they are good for our students the government can't take our guns away but have a better law in place who needs to buy a round of 35 who they taking out I can see a small single gun but the others no Please let's keep our eyes open and ask or call 911 if u think something is wrong I just can't understand why
BeachBum December 19, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Security Info Story : http://gma.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/school-safety-inside-one-schools-extraordinary-security-measures-121623758--abc-news-topstories.html
Mike December 19, 2012 at 08:37 PM
I think it's very nice to have an aide greeting people at Hudson Maxim, but how does that keep our children safe, and what do you mean there's been no school nurse there for a month. Who sent my son home sick two weeks ago, who's been making all the medical decisions there? Why has it been kept a secret? What else don?t we know about what's going on in our schools?
Emily December 20, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Mike, so many questions and no answers. To hear lundin talk all is well. This board has to realize they work for us we do not work for them. We want answers and action. These are our children and teachers , aides, custodial staff in these buildings. Protect them. He really believes this is a good security system (a greeter) we have to make it better. The best protection is to put the police back in the schools, new windows, carpeting etc. are unimportant( I hope the new superintendent doesn't have to redecorate), our children are real He better check out the nurse situation and if need be hold Mrs. Henz accountable for not notifying the parents. Just my opinion. In retrosect that's not going happen. This is where our system breaks down, lack of communication or not the desire to include parents in decisions.
Emily December 20, 2012 at 03:00 PM
A solution. Alarms on everydoor in the school system, and don't tell me there is not enough money. As soon as the alarms go off automatic lockdown and police are called. same concept as fire alarms. Just a thought, but I know my voice will fall on the deaf ears of some of the board. So sad for our community. Everyone has to keep asking what their plans are for safety otherwise nothing will be done and our precious children are at risk. No one is immuned to a horror like this, but we have to find ways to follow through, especially you Cliff Lunden, wake-up and face reality, your not the the deciding decision about our children. I am heartbroken and angry, we have to keep after them and not wait until we lock the barn door after the horse is gone. no one can possibly say overreacting, this happened in a place everyone felt safe, now we have to change our way of thinking.
Emily December 21, 2012 at 01:13 PM
why was this story put on the back burner. You Dr. m asked for input and then it disappears from view. Let the people express themselves, you may learn something valuable from them. Cliff your just as guilty. Maybe it's because the people have had it. wake up, now is the time to act, not later. This system has a nasty habit about shoving things under the rug at the peoples expense. What I would like to see is a report on what your plans are about security and what has been implemented, again I'm sure that won't happen. Please board members protect our children and stop thinking about yourselves. Some of you think the people aren't that smart, that is a big mistake on your part. Power of the people. I'll keep commenting until I get an answer that shows you really care about our children.
qftl60 December 22, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Just a suggestion, we are a small community why not take some of the officers who are in patrol cars in "hidden" areas to prevent speeding and place them in the schools for their shift - this should not incur any additional expense to the schools as they would already be "on the clock" so to speak. We have only 5 schools in the district that would only require 5 officers - this is OUR community Hopatcong and unless I am mistaken these officers are in our employ since it is our tax dollars paying their salaries we should have an input as to where they put in their hours - in the schools where they are NEEDED.

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