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Schools Bolster Police Presence After Newtown Massacre

Wyckoff and Franklin Lakes officials say they are working with local police to ensure safety of school children.

Schools in Wyckoff and Franklin Lakes plan to increase police presence in and around their facilities Monday and prepare for talks with children in the wake of the mass murder of 20 school children and 6 adults at a Newtown, Conn., school on Friday. 

As schools across the nation grapple with how to react to one of the worst mass casualty events ever at an American school, educators from Boston to Denver are struggling with how exactly to respond.

Locally, school and municipal officials are working together to bolster police presence and allay the fears of parents.

"The township has stepped up its police patrols at the schools today and parents will be seeing that when they drop off their kids," said Wyckoff Mayor Chris DePhillips Monday morning.

Superintendents in both Wyckoff and Franklin Lakes late Sunday wrote letters to assure parents that concerns, fears, and trepidation would not be ignored and that staff and administration at nearly one dozen schools here would be again properly prepared for any emergency. 

"In light of this most recent tragedy, we will be working in conjunction with our local officials and emergency response teams to ensure that our procedures are as strong as they can be, and we will follow them strictly," wrote Franklin Lakes Superintendent Frank Romano. "Throughout this upcoming week, each of the Franklin Lakes schools will have a police officer on the premises for the entire school day. In addition to this, we will heighten our security measures to include limited access by visitors, plan to have administrators and teachers in their regular locations and assignments whenever possible, and engage in additional building walkthroughs to ensure safeguarded facilities."

Franklin Lakes schools "regularly adhere" to single-point-of-entry protocols with cameras and buzzers during school hours, Romano said.

He also stressed that "New Jersey public schools are required to have two emergency drills per month, which include active shooter, shelter in place, bomb-threat, and fire evacuation drills" and, as a result, "administrators, faculty, staff, and students are well prepared for a variety of internal and external threats."

Wyckoff's superintendent also said that a single-point of entry protocol would be used starting Monday "for students arriving early for TAP, band, chorus or extra-help. 

"No other doors will be open for students to enter the building before regular school hours," Superintendent Richard Kuder wrote in a letter to parents.

"I have spoken with [Police] Chief Benjamin Fox and will be working in conjunction with the Wyckoff Police Department to fine-tune our procedures to ensure they are as strong as possible," Kuder said.

Wyckoff principals will be meeting with their staff Monday morning about how to best handle student concerns, questions and statements, Kuder said. 

"All of us recognize that students will be coming to school with varying levels of knowledge about what occurred on Friday," he said. "Every effort will be made to respond to questions appropriately and then return to regular classroom activities."

Both Kuder and Romano said that elementary school staff will not be proactively discussing the Newtown school shooting with their students, but that it would likely be spoken about in middle school classrooms.

"A middle school age-appropriate message will be read to students during homeroom by the teacher and students will be made aware that counselors are available should the need arise," Kuder said.

Similarly, the Franklin Lakes Superintendent said that "it is reasonable to assume that at the middle school, teachers will hold discussions with students," and that such talks would be "developmentally and situationally appropriate."

We want to know what you think:

  • What could schools do to increase the safety of students?
  • Did the letters from superintendents ease your concerns?
  • How has the world changed for you in the days following the Sand Hook Elementary shootings?

Tell us in the comments below.

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Joseph M. Gerace at Joseph.Gerace@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Dianne Carolan December 17, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Maybe each town should inform the schools with the names of their residents who own guns in their homes. At least this way, the schools are informed that the access is there and possibly extra controls put in place.
Michael Stern December 17, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Being an owner of a Pre-school, we always use single-point-of-entry protocols and our doors are always locked. But how do you defend yourself and the school against such evil ? Having the Police increase their partrols is a good start but we need better protection for our Children and teachers.
Jon December 17, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Sadly we may need to hire at least 1 off duty police officer at each school everyday, noone including me wants a gun in school but there may not be much choice,, there is no such thing as 100% protection but we need to protect our teachers and students on a much higher level in light of how little protection we now see they actually have.
OaklandGuy December 17, 2012 at 08:16 PM
This idea has a lot of potential. If all gun owners were watched as closely as sex offenders, we'd be on the right track. There should be town registration fees for firearms. Each firearm is registered to a certain household and that information is not only public information, but publicly displayed. It may be your right to bear arms, but it's my right to know that you bear those stupid arms.
Q December 17, 2012 at 10:25 PM
I appreciate Mr. Kuder's words but it was still very difficult to drop off my children at school this morning knowing that if someone really wants to come in and wreak havoc, he/she will do it despite security measures. And I was thinking about the Newtown parents who dropped their children off on Friday thinking it would be like any other day but, most tragically, no. We are over due to ban weapons that fire more than one bullet at a time. No need for anyone but military personnel to have assault weapons. These weapons fall into the wrong hands all too easily.
Brian December 18, 2012 at 12:46 AM
So what your saying is that I should be watched closely just because I responsibly own a gun? I guess your implying that I will basically that I would be a walking red flag who should be searched because I am 1 out of the 80 million American citizens that legally own a gun? And OaklandGuy, are you comparing me to a criminal because I own a gun that has never once been used illegally? You should do you research because when I purchased my firearm permit I paid over $360 dollars in state and municipal permits, not to mention the interview with my police chief and fingerprinting for the FBI background check. Oh and by the way your little idea would've failed miserably in the Sandy Hook shooting. That idiot didn't legally own one of those guns.
OaklandGuy December 18, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Yes, Brian, I am saying you should be watched EXTREMELY close. You obviously have an attitude and a gun. A combination I don't want anywhere near me and my family. I don't care if you paid $360 in permits, and did your interviews. I'm glad you did that. But this is a new generation of living. What WAS sufficient is no longer sufficient. People need to get over the fact that owning a gun is their right. Yes, it is your right, if this is a different century. Life is a lot different than it was when that became your right. You can't say that this idea would have failed miserably because if there were more restirictions, maybe the mother wouldn't have them in the house to begin with. Don't be an idiot Brian. Until you and the other 80 million idiots can make sure no one knows about your rediculous gun and can 100% PREVENT some low life doesn't break in, steal it, and use it I won't be happy.
Pam P December 18, 2012 at 03:26 AM
I don't think it's so much about gun control as it is monitoring mental illness. It could have been a bomb. People who are unstable mentally, psychologically, emotionally, etc. need to be monitor closely. Here is a comment from the Newtown Patch, posted by Carole Lieberman, M.D. "My heart goes out to the families of Newtown. As a psychiatrist, I just want to add that, in terms of motive, we must look first at Adam's dysfunctional relationship with his family. He was obviously angry at his mother, who was left alone to take care of a psychologically troubled young man. Why did she have guns in the house when she knew he had problems? Why did Adam's father abandon him? Why did his brother not see him for over a year? Did Adam purposely carry his brother's ID because he wanted the crimes to be blamed on him? Why wasn't Adam under intense psychiatric treatment? Although the answers won't bring the precious children back, these questions must be answered to avoid tragedies in the future."
Brian December 18, 2012 at 03:38 AM
Oh so now I'm a criminal, have an attitude, and an idiot. You don't care that I paid $360 in permits but glad I did? You said there should be town registration fees for firearms. So now you don't care about that? I said your idea would've never worked because you never said anything about the mother being restricted to having guns. All that was said was that all registered owners firearms registrations should have been made public. Her guns were registered so they couldve been easily been made public, but nothing you said would've prevented her son from stealing them. You also said that you want "Each firearm is registered to a certain household and that information is not only public information, but publicly displayed", but now your saying that "Until you and the other 80 million idiots can make sure no one knows about your rediculous gun and can 100% PREVENT some low life doesn't break in, steal it, and use it I won't be happy". Your second statement just shows you how your first statement could lead to a disaster. If you want all firearm registrations to be publicly displayed, then your just telling the criminals where to steal the guns! By the way, I highly doubt anyone will ever get to my firearms. They would have to break into my house, find my gun safe, figure out the combo, then find my keys to the trigger locks, then they would have to find my firing pins I have removed from them. I'm confident that no one can ever use any one of my guns for a crime.
wyguy December 18, 2012 at 03:49 AM
A license grants you legal rights to own a gun which also includes proper safety in locking up both the weapon and ammunition. The shooters mom had permits for her guns but did not use good sense in securing them. The shooter also had his own gun which he could not find on the day of the shooting. Had his mom locked her guns up and had trigger locks on them who knows.

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