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B-W School Board, Public Talk Safety After Newtown Massacre

Is there a need for armed guards at local schools?

In Case of Emergency ... 

The topic of school safety dominated discussions on Wednesday night at the first Baldwin-Whitehall School Board meeting since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at an , in mid-December.

Multiple school board members, the district superintendent, a student board representative and a vocal member of the public each spoke on the issue, and the theme was constant: Baldwin-Whitehall, like all school districts, is vulnerable to attack.

"I don't know how anybody can fight against a military assault rifle," school board President Nancy Sciulli DiNardo said toward the end of Wednesday's meeting before also saying that school district officials "need to do everything we can within the law" to prevent incidents like the Newtown massacre from happening again.

To that end, Superintendent Dr. Randal A. Lutz started the meeting by informing its attendants that school administration has been reviewing its crisis response plans.

"There are crisis-response plans that exist for each school," Dr. Lutz said. "We've been talking with principals about reviewing those with staff to really be familiar with those, so, when things happen, (they'll know) what are the responses."

In keeping with his desire to have strong relationships with local police officers, Lutz said that, earlier on Wednesday, district administrators also met with the police chiefs of Baldwin and Whitehall boroughs.

"It was a fantastic conversation, and hopefully, is the first of what will be many conversations of how they can help us get better and what we can do for them."

Active Shooter Drills?

Following Lutz's opening remarks, board members Nancy Lee Crowder and Larry Pantuso asked Lutz when, specifically, district administration will conduct drills for students and staff members to practice responding to an active shooter event.

Pantuso stressed that vulnerabilities in each school's crisis-response plan can't be discovered until drills are done.

"It's great that we're talking," Pantuso said, "but I think, now, we need to have some action."

Lutz said that there are no immediate plans or dates for drills.

Armed Guards? Armed Teachers?

Sophomore and student board representative Jennifer Yanko confirmed with Lutz that there are no armed security guards at Baldwin-Whitehall's schools.

But when asked by Crowder if she would like to see armed guards at the schools, Yanko replied that she thinks that that's "a good idea."

"That would help," Yanko said, "because we don't have any other weapons (to stop an armed attacker)."

Crowder asked Lutz if employing armed guards has been considered as a safety option at the district's schools, and Lutz responded, "While the answer's not an immediate 'yes,' I'd say that we're looking into those things for a variety of reasons—immediate and long-term."

Crowder then said, "It doesn't matter how many armed security guards we have; if you have somebody with an assault rifle who's going to blow their way into your building, it seems sort of penniless. But I just think that it might be a good idea for us to look at that at some point. See what the cost would be." 

Pantuso showed that armed guards at schools don't eliminate vulnerabilities when he pointed out that just such a guard—a sheriff's deputy at that—could not prevent 13 lives from being taken at the 1999 Columbine High School shootings in Colorado.

Board member Ray Rosing confirmed with Lutz that district administration is not considering issuing guns to teachers.

Baldwin Resident Has Concerns

Todd Plunkett of Blossom Drive in Baldwin Borough used public comments time on Wednesday to express his criticism of current safety measures at district schools.

Among Plunkett's opinions were that entry to schools is too easy and is not documented well enough.

"Staff does not address or even, at times, acknowledge people entering (a) building," Plunkett said, "i.e., challenge them, say, 'Excuse me, can I help you?'

"If you look like you belong, act like you belong, I'm allowed access anywhere I go. I don't care who I am. I should be questioned.

"I, personally, have walked unaddressed through schools in this district dressed like this (in plain clothes). I don't think that's right. Little kids have said hello to me. I don't think that's right. It should be the adults talking to me."

Plunkett believes that schools' fire and wind drills should be replaced by violence drills.

He said that some of his safety concerns over the past few years have eventually been addressed by district administrators but only after too much time had gone by. He also said that physical measures that he has been asking for the institution of, such as jam locks on the inside half of classroom doors, are only now being looked at seriously.

"I've spoken to a couple of people on the board," Plunkett said. "I've tried to push some things through, but ultimately, nothing I've mentioned has really been talked about until now after a whole bunch of children have been killed somewhere else.

"The only thing I'm glad about is it wasn't here."

Do you have concerns? Opinions on one of the above topics? Converse with other interested parties in the comments section below.

And read through other Baldwin-Whitehall School Board items here.

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cc January 11, 2013 at 04:02 PM
Tom what your saying is totally true about the Fast and Furious, but the joker in the White House doesn't bring this up and even denies that this happen. How many of those assault riffles that obummer gave away used now in the Unites States to do killings? How do we know these weapons won't be used the next time in a school shooting? obama need prosecuted for those 300 murders that he alone caused when he gave all those assault weapons out.
gema karpol January 11, 2013 at 05:10 PM
I am really ticked that the back door at the high school is left unattended and open for whomever to go as they please. My child is a sophmore and I did not know that. What are they thinking. Again we need to attend the board meeting and get this ball rolling on taking care of this. I think making the buildings secure and taking other measures of security within the school such as door jams etc. should be the first on the list before we starting arming teachers.
chris January 11, 2013 at 05:30 PM
The sad thing is you have parents like cc who know the door is open and continue to use it. Because everyone else does. And then they complain about the safety of our schools.
gema karpol January 11, 2013 at 07:57 PM
agreed!!!
Danielle Buchina January 11, 2013 at 09:50 PM
NE124kid, did you personally ask all the teachers YOURSELF? Where did you see me say ALL.....says MOST. I'm allowed to state MY opinion, this isn't high school. Yes, I have personally asked friends of mine that are teachers. Polls? Everybody knows those numbers change by the company taking them. I have friends that are nurses, police officers, chief of a firehall, marines, and veterans. MOST seem to have the same ideas. That's all they are, ideas. No one has a correct answer for what happened and attacking someones opinion isn't going to help. People are trying to have a nice talk about what may help. I know for a FACT if someone if shooting at myself or my family, a gun aimed back at the criminal is better than nothing. Maybe I'm the only one, again...my opinion, not the law, no reason to get your panties in a bunch. Well, I'm also done with the conversation....off to more important things and i won't be monitoring your answer because I can care less.
Tom Barchfeld January 11, 2013 at 11:43 PM
NE12Ukid, why don't you ask others who have posted about the football coach that they are off topic, instead of singling me out?
cc January 11, 2013 at 11:51 PM
I don't go into the school, my child runs out to the car to get her gym stuff. It is the schools responsibility to keep the doors locked but Baldwin School District sees no need to keep the doors locked or even have security by the doors. It is also our School Board and Administration job to keep doors locked at the schools, to do a better job of asking parents who go to the schools who they are, what is their reason for being at the schools, etc which our District does not do a good job of doing to begin with. I suggested that Teachers who have license to carry concealed weapons be allowed to carry them at school to keep our students safe as our school district administration and school board isn't doing anything.
cc January 11, 2013 at 11:56 PM
ne12ukid is a bully on the patch and attacks all. they think they are superior to everyone and its answer is the only one that should be listen to. but all ne12ukid does is steals other peoples words from different articles and tries to pass it off as their own words. 90% of the time I ignore what this thing says as it is always in attack mode.
NE12Ukid January 12, 2013 at 02:06 AM
Danielle 4:50 pm on Friday, January 11, 2013 NE124kid, did you personally ask all the teachers YOURSELF? Where did you see me say ALL.....says MOST... Of course I didn't ask all the teachers, but I also did not make the claim that " I'm sure most of the teachers would appreciate that". How are you SURE that most would appreciate carrying concealed unless you asked them all?
NE12Ukid January 12, 2013 at 02:10 AM
Tom Barchfeld6:43 pm on Friday, January 11, 2013 NE12Ukid, why don't you ask others who have posted about the football coach that they are off topic, instead of singling me out? Now, Tommy, I 'm not monitoring who is off topic, Bob does a fine job of keeping things in decent order here. I was merely answering your inquiry. You wanted to know where was discussion of F& F, ending with "all you want to talk about is this school shooting". Yes, Tom Barchfield, that is definitely what most if not all want to talk about here and now, because, like I said, that's the topic here. If you want to talk about a different topic, fine by me, maybe Bob doesn't mind either. But can't you see that it makes sense for others to focus on this school shooting in this particular comment section?
NE12Ukid January 12, 2013 at 02:13 AM
I'm allowed to state MY opinion, this isn't high school.~~DAnielle>>>> Of course you are, and I am "allowed" to question it. Seems it's not my panties that got in a bunch, LOL!
Tom Barchfeld January 12, 2013 at 02:32 AM
NE12Ukid, you said I was off topic, comment thread monitor. You did not answer anything, just made an ignorant comment. A total lack of class by not taking the subject seriously. What, I need to consult with you first before posting something?
MMS January 12, 2013 at 04:42 AM
I should have known better than to comment on this website. I've gotten 10 emails that comments have been posted and they have all been argumentative. All I ever see on Patch are disagreements, which will get us absolutely nowhere. Why is it so difficult for people to act civilized and not always try to hit below the belt or one up someone??? The worst part of it is that these are folks who are all evidently in my neck of the woods...honestly we are here trying to find ways to protect or kids. Or at least I thought we were...
Tom Barchfeld January 12, 2013 at 07:24 AM
It is people like NEU12kid who address people ignorantly, can't show respect for other people, which is childish, because they are not here to discuss the issues.
Common Sense January 12, 2013 at 07:47 AM
The tribune review had an article saying that Coach Wehner has a second interview at McKeesport this weekend. He doesn't want to be here and the players and parents don't want him here. Looks like this is an easy decision for the board to open the football position.
cd January 12, 2013 at 12:28 PM
Cc..first who is paying our military men to be over other countries..US...so if we are spending money spend on our needs.. The person in office is not my choice, but lets face it anyone in there will not to be able to stop this violence, so we have to figure out how to protect against it..even gun control will not help, drugs are illegal and people still get them. As far as our schools access, this needs to be soo tight and they are not, cc you are going to a back door what if someone is watching you just confirmed to someone access to the school, as a parent you should of report this and definitely not using that access.
cc January 12, 2013 at 01:34 PM
cd i am driving to the back of the school, i do not enter the school at all. The school needs to lock the doors to the back of the school as students go in and out the doors all day to go smoke up by the first house by the guards desk, they run down to the Sonoco to get food during the day and students use these doors all day. At one time there was a guards desk at the doors, but the school got rid of it and leave the school open so that anyone can walk in. The lady guard at the front of the school has to deal with children, parents, and watching over 300 camera's which she cannot do. BTW, at one time I use to go to the front of the school to drop my daughters gym clothes off but was told by the lady guard to just drive up to the back of the school and have your daughter come out to get them as long as your not entering the school building, which I don't do at all. Other parents goes in though these doors to go to offices and where every in the school. The back doors of the school should be locked at all times, but it is the School that allows them to be open all day. This has been brought up at School Board meetings also in the past but they have never done anything about it. CD yes we are paying our military to protect us as a country and these fine people have jobs that they do every day, from mechanics to computer tech, they don't play with guns all day nor are they there to be watching over schools. It is the districts responsibility to have security
NE12Ukid January 12, 2013 at 01:46 PM
We keep getting so many additional details about this obvious security breech, seems like a good thing to actually meet with high school administration and ask directly. Take copies of these posted messages, and ask direct questions about it, including why the security person told a parent to use a back door. After administration has responded and added THEIR facts, a concerned parent would then, if necessary, take it up with the Board.
NE12Ukid January 12, 2013 at 01:49 PM
Bob took care of that, above.
NE12Ukid January 12, 2013 at 01:56 PM
That would be an excellent thing to ask the administration at Whitehall about! Get the facts on both sides, and if still not satisfied, then take it to the Board. Best of luck.
gema karpol January 12, 2013 at 03:58 PM
cc, It doesn't matter that you are driving up to the back of the school and not entering the school, the fact is that the door is unlocked and as a parent, if I was doing that for my child, I would be part of the problem too. This is very serious. We have been stating, how many times, that the back door is unlocked, Maybe not a good idea!
gema karpol January 12, 2013 at 03:59 PM
I will be calling the school on Monday for sure!!
NE12Ukid January 12, 2013 at 11:21 PM
Good for you! Let us know what you find out.
NE12Ukid January 13, 2013 at 12:32 AM
No, Tom. The posts are all here to see. Please do not change words and attribute them to me. Have a real nice evening.
Tom Barchfeld January 13, 2013 at 01:04 AM
NE12Ukid, why did you even respond to my post? Just to be contrary? And you ridicule Danielle. You are the person who needs to chill out and learn to give people respect.
Billee January 13, 2013 at 01:39 AM
The said be Baldwin Whitehall consultant in collaboration with our district administration should be conducting a on site Law Enforcement Survey Assessment to determine RISK! Assuming the data they collect from the detailed survey is correct... would or should produce a appropriate accurate measure of fact base on if the district should hire a armed resource officer or two if needed to maintain a safe environment standard. Even if the survey would determine no use for armed officers at this time... adjustments to tighten the buildings weak points are needed now. Faith without works is dead and so can our children be if we don't implement the changes sooner than later.
cc January 13, 2013 at 03:45 AM
baldwin mom, i do agree that the doors to the school should be locked at all times, and this has been brought up in the past at school board meetings, brought to the attention of the high school principle and also to the administration in the school but they haven't addressed this in years. It was actually when they finish with the renovation at the high school and moved the back security desk, when they started leaving the back doors unlocked. At one time you had to be buzzed in though the doors but this was removed during the renovation.
cc January 13, 2013 at 03:50 AM
Tom totally agree with you there, it is always on the attack of people. but then so much bull has also came out of its mouth as it has changed its name a few times after people have told it off under many of different names it uses. I can just picture its neighbors running every time they see it outside, as they are a very bitter person.
NE12Ukid January 13, 2013 at 04:24 AM
If interested in the idea of arming school personnel, view this: http://abcnews.go.com/2020/video/defend-gun-7312540
bd January 13, 2013 at 03:16 PM
There should only be once entrance into and out of all school facilities including any facilities used for public purposes. Too bad if teachers, school board members, the general public and district personnel complain. Everyone should be checked for passes, including administration, school board, students, and school personnel. Everyone without a pass needs to be checked out and signed in and out of the building. Briefcases, bags, backpacks, etc. need to be checked. People without passes should also be escorted to the main office before they are allowed to go to their ultimate destination. Classrooms should be locked from the inside as recommended by Plunkett of Baldwin EMS on a separate post. But, how do you solve forced break-ins? Camera security systems to the main entrance security guard may help. Arming that security guard may help. Having district personnel patrol the grounds during school hours may help.

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