Editor's Note (The View From Here)

A Sad Situation

I can vividly remember packing my kids up and sending them to school. I worried about things like their homework being finished, their clothes being ironed or if I packed them a healthy lunch. I never worried about them facing a gunman at school — or never seeing them again. But sadly, things have changed.

Every one of you has talked about the shootings that took place at Columbine High School, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook Elementary. But how many of you have realized that since Sandy Hook (December 2012), there have been at least 142 other school shootings — an average of one a week.

Sadly, I find myself again writing about an active shooter incident on campus where 10 people were killed and seven were injured when a gunman opened fire at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College. It was students’ fourth day of class. It was also the fourth shooting on a U.S. college campus since August.

I realize that it would be foolish for us to think that we can prevent all crime on campus, but it would be irresponsible of us not to do everything in our power to make our schools safer. We need to do more than talk about the latest event for the next few months and then forget, do nothing and just move on. Lack of funding can no longer be used as an excuse, and the “ostrich” method is not a viable plan. Security MUST be a priority on all campuses.

This is a view that is shared by many, including Patrick Fiel of PVF Security Consulting LLC, formerly the executive director of school security for the Washington D.C. public school system. Fiel suggests that schools work with security experts to put a comprehensive plan in place. “A thorough risk assessment is the best investment to identify their strengths and correct security weaknesses before they become a problem. The resulting assessment will be the basis for developing a strategic security plan.” He is also a strong advocate of a police officer being assigned to all campuses. It is his opinion that there are still too many schools not up to par, and he would like to see minimum, mandatory standards for access control, communications/mass notification and CCTV solutions among the primary solutions. He also believes that in all cases, the key is prevention, preparation, response and recovery.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by recent events. My hope is that we remember for longer than 90 days, we stop making excuses and we take action now to improve school and campus safety.

This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of School Planning & Management.

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