Friday’s shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at a schoolhouse in Newton, CT, stunned the nation. Each detail that emerged about the violence at the hands of a deranged gunman struck a nerve for many parents, who wondered, “Are my children safe in their schools?”
Late Sunday afternoon, while some St. Charles parents expressed their fears and concerns when St. Charles Patch hosted a Facebook discussion of the issue, St. Charles Community Unit School District 303 announced initiatives educators hope not only will keep children safe, but also will head off potential violence before it erupts.
Superintendent Dr. Donald Schlomann sent the email about 4:30 p.m., about 50 minutes after the Facebook discussion began. Schlomann wrote that the district will review all its security measures, but that the district also would launch additional initiatives this week to identify and to help individuals who may be struggling with mental health and emotional issues.
“The tragic events which occurred last Friday in Connecticut have resulted in a lot of discussion nationwide about a range of related topics,” Schlomann wrote in his email to parents. “My observation is that those discussions have centered on taking reactive actions in an attempt to provide certainty that the events at Sandy Hook School will never happen again.”
Schlomann noted in his email that the facts that are emerging about Friday’s horrific tragedy point to mental health and emotional struggles. “I would like to share with you some initiatives we are going to take in St. Charles District 303,” he wrote.
The superintendent’s email was timely — 14 parents participating in the St. Charles Patch Facebook discussion thread posted 31 comments between 3:40, when the thread was posted, and 7:30 p.m., expressing their fears about what they perceive to be possible lapses in security and their concerns that perhaps the district needs to beef up its efforts to keep the children’s safety.
Schlomann wrote that the district will review its security measures.
“More importantly, starting Monday our student support teams will review student connections with school, friends, and family,” he said. “The goal is to identify students who might be struggling and then provide them with the assistance they need long before they harm themselves, or others.
“Just as we did on the topic of student suicide and depression, we are going to turn our attention to prevention,” he said. “We are going to utilize the power that resides in our teachers and staff members and their knowledge of and familiarity with the kids who attend our schools. …”
Schlomann noted that when the district faced the issue of depression and student suicide, it did so with “the idea that we, as a community, all have a responsibility for the students in District 303. I believe that applying that same type community attentiveness to students who might be struggling emotionally is the best way to do as much as we can to prevent a tragedy such as the one that occurred on Friday. District 303 is ready to accept the lead in this initiative.”
- Dec. 16, 2012: After Newtown: District 303 Parents Worry About School Safety
- Dec. 16, 2012: Dr. Schlomann's Email to District 303 Parents