As the nation grieves, new details surrounding the horrific Newtown, Connecticut school shooting are emerging every moment. CNN is now reporting that Sandy Hook Elementary School principal, Principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was killed in the shooting today, had actually recently installed and begun using a new security system to ensure student safety.
Just this past fall, Hochsprung had sent a letter to parents saying that every visitor would be required to ring the doorbell at the front entrance after the doors locked at 9:30 a.m. Staff had also started using a visual monitoring system to determine who could enter the building. And even once they had gained access, parents and visitors then were told to report directly to the main office and sign in. Parents would also be asked for photo identification if staff didn't recognize them. Hochsprung had kindly asked parents to be patient with the new system ...
She wrote in the letter:
Please understand that with nearly 700 students and over 1,000 parents representing 500 SHS families, most parents will be asked to show identification. ... Though they will work diligently to help you into the building as quickly as possible, there may be a short delay until someone can view you on the handset and allow you to come in electronically.
It is incredibly, especially disturbing that regardless of these very well-meaning and likely even comprehensive precautionary measures taken by Hochsprung and her staff, today's events unfolded as they did. Although we can't yet confirm how the shooter entered the school in the first place -- perhaps prior to 9:30 a.m. or because he was a teacher's child? -- it's clear that the new security system, no matter how ambitious, fell painfully short.
This system's failure can only stand to make the case for much more involved and heightened security at Sandy Hook and other schools. Possibly shooting drills. Surely whatever it is will take some getting used to -- likely much more getting used to than the unsuccessful system Principal Hochsprung knew would make Sandy Hook parents impatient. But so what? Faced with the horrors we've seen today, parents and faculty have no choice but to stop walking on eggshells, step it up, and to do whatever it takes to keep kids safe.
What do you think must be done to increase school security in the future?
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