Slain Newtown Principal's New School Security System Fell Painfully Short

Heartbreaking 23

sandy hook elementary school newtown CTAs 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?


Image via Mario Tama/Getty

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Venae Venae

There's nothing you can do about it - how much more secure can you get other than a strip search?  Even w/a security guard at the door, the first thing the shooter would have done was to kill him, then he would have been inside.


peanu... peanutsmommy1

I agree completely. My sons school has a full time staff at the front door asking for security passes or the case of a shooting, she would be the first victim

cassi... cassie_kellison

There is a similar system at my sons school. You ring the bell and they look at you through the window and let you in, then you sign in.

tuffy... tuffymama

The shooter was the mentally disabled son of a teacher. He might have been there a million times before and someone let him in because they believed he was there under normal, innocent circumstances. The devil you know can be more dangerous than the devil you don't.

bills... billsfan1104

There is nothing you can do. They were secured and took all the precautions.

bills... billsfan1104

Tuffy is right. Evil is evil

elle7777 elle7777

Hindsight  is always 20/20. It sounds like they actually had a pretty good system in place. Kind of hard to prevent the random teacher/student/parent that you KNOW from bringing a gun in and going psycho ).

sofia... sofia0587

It would have worked if it was a stranger but the fact that it was a teachers son made it easy for him to get in, he was probably well known there.

Javi0... Javi05Eli07

My kids school has this same kind of security system.  If someone was on their way out the door he could have gotten in easily without having to ring the doorbell.  Since his mom worked at the school, I am going to guess she had a badge that would open the door and he could have easily taken it and used it.  Like others have said, he was probably well known and the office had no problem with him coming in during school hours.

The only way things like this might be prevented with non-students would be to not allow anyone into the school that is not a staff member or student.  Even that wouldn't be enough if a staff members badge was used to get in though.

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