Hernando schools up security following Conn. shooting
By Matt Reinig | Hernando TodayBROOKSVILLE - Hernando County schools, both private and public, are upping security measures following Friday's tragic massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, which claimed the lives of 20 students, six adults at the school, and the gunman's mother in her home before the assailant took his own life.
Published: December 17, 2012
Published: December 17, 2012
Joe Vitalo, head of the teachers' union, said Superintendent of Schools Bryan Blavatt, who is also a board member of the National Alliance of Safe Schools, held a conference call early Monday morning with all school administrators.
"We have the Sheriff's Office and Brooksville Police Department in with an increased presence this week around the elementary schools, because they don't have a school resource officer," Vitalo said. "Administrators and everyone is helping out, having more presence around the students to have the students reassured."
Blavatt could not be reached for comment.
In a voicemail sent to parents with children attending Chocachatti Elementary School in Brooksville, Principal Maria Rybka asked that there be no lunch visitors this week and that there would be no exceptions.
"We take our safety very seriously, and we will continue to do everything we can to make this a wonderful week," Rybka said.
Rybka also said teachers were asked to give a volunteer list to the front desk for activities throughout the week, and for volunteers to contact teachers to let them know ahead of time that they'll be attending an event this week, and check to make sure their names are on the list. If a name is not on the volunteer list, she said that person will not be allowed in the school.
Denise Moloney, sheriff's spokeswoman, said there is an operational plan in effect law enforcement cannot currently disclose.
"We don't want to release specifics because we don't want bad guys to know what were doing, but we do have added security not just in the elementary schools, but all schools in the county including the private schools," Moloney said.
Vitalo said district schools will be wearing green and white throughout the week – Sandy Hook Elementary School's colors – to honor the students whose lives were senselessly taken, and the heroism of teachers, principals, and staff that died defending their students.
"It's sad to say, but this is a situation that staff did everything they were supposed to do, and everyone is going to pick this apart for months to come," Vitalo said. "They're going to pick this apart by every detail to figure out what more they could have done. This isn't one of their students that did this, but this is a person that literally came off the street. So it's a very unique situation, and we're doing everything we can do to be prepared for those situations."
"As teachers and from the association, you can see that one we all have to work with our students to understand safety and following directions," Vitalo said. "And when we say we sacrifice for the kids, we have teachers that actually prove that."
The grandmother of a victim of Friday's shooting is a seasonal resident of Brooksville. However, she has declined comment to the press.
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