By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
In an effort to reassure parents that their children are safe in a post-Sandy Hook world, the Community Education Council of School District 20 is holding a meeting to discuss safety measures taken in public schools in Bay Ridge and surrounding communities.
The council, headed by President Laurie Windsor, has invited District 20 Superintendent Karina Costantino to its next meeting on Jan. 9 at P.S./I.S. 104, 9115 Fifth Ave., at 7 p.m. to give a presentation on school safety.
“We’re doing it in response to Sandy Hook. We were discussing it at one of our council meetings and one of our members suggested we have a meeting on it and invite the public,” Windsor said.
“A lot of our parents are probably nervous. People are nervous, and not just in District 20,” Windsor said.
The aim of the Jan. 9 meeting is to reassure parents that public schools are safe places for their children, according to Windsor. “I think a lot of parents are not aware that every school has to have a school safety committee and that the committee has to meet on a regular basis. Each school has an individualized safety plan to put into action in the event of an emergency. I think if parents were aware of this, they wouldn’t be as nervous as they are,” She said.
The safety plan in each school is kept under lock and key, Windsor said. “The plan is confidential,” she said, adding that the reason for the secrecy is to keep a potential gunman or terrorist from being able to circumvent the school’s safety procedures.
“I hope a lot of parents come to our meeting,” Windsor said. “I think they’ll feel better if they do.”
District 29 covers public schools in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, and parts of Sunset Park. There are more than 30,000 students enrolled in the district’s schools.
The issue of school safety has been at the forefront in many school districts since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. On Dec. 14, gunman Adam Lanza shot 26 people, including 20 first grade students, to death in a hail of gunfire before taking his own life.
On Jan. 3, students from Sandy Hook who survived the massacre returned to classes for the first time since the tragedy. They are attending a school in a nearby town. Reuters reported that the children were driven to their new school in buses festooned with the school colors of Sandy Hook Elementary.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew and Council of Supervisors and Administrators President Ernest Logan issued a joint statement on the efforts being made to make schools safer.
“The Department of Education, the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, and the United Federation of Teachers are working together to make sure that our schools are safe and that staff and students have the support they need to move forward following this tragic event,” the statement read.
“We are also asking every school community to review their visitor control procedures as well as the General Response Protocols, which cover shelter-in, lockdowns, and evacuations,” the statement read.