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Holmdel Schools Superintendent: We Will Be Proactive About School Security

Schools Superintendent Barbara Duncan will meet monthly with the Holmdel Police Dept. to be even better prepared for any potential threat.

The following message to the Holmdel School Community was posted on the district website Friday from Superintendent Barbara Duncan. 


“Our hearts are broken…but our spirit is strong.”  - The Community of Newtown 

A week has gone by, and still there are no words that adequately describe the anguish felt by us all, no way to make sense of this senseless act, and no answers to the most difficult question of all:  why?

Last week’s events have, no doubt, sparked renewed debate across this land about many things, including gun control, mental health treatment, and of course, school security.

At Wednesday night’s BOE meeting, a number of parents expressed concern about our district’s preparedness for such an event.  Some wondered if we practiced these “active shooter” scenarios they heard about on television; others wondered whether we shouldn’t have a more prominent, if not permanent, police presence in all of our buildings; still others lamented the perceived breakdown in communication throughout last weekend.

All of these things, I suppose, are to be expected when faced with such unspeakable horror, and I am not sure, even today, that we will ever be able to answer all of these questions to everyone’s satisfaction.  But one thing I do know, with certainty, is that the Holmdel schools, are SAFE places for your children.

Even before it was a state mandate for schools to do so, we have been practicing these “active shooter” scenarios--we even brought in the Monmouth County SWAT team (which includes three members from our Holmdel PD) a few years ago to conduct a real-time simulation at the high school.  Additionally, and with the assistance of our police department, we regularly conduct threat assessments of all types in our building, always looking to refine our potential response.  There is no doubt in my mind that our students and staff are well prepared should such an event ever take place on our grounds.

This is not to say we can’t be even more prepared, and to that end, I, along with our administrative team, met yesterday with the mayor, police chief and other ranking members of our police department in an effort to be even more proactive.  We agreed it is more important than ever that these “active shooter” drills continue, maybe not in the next few weeks, but certainly before the school year ends.  We agreed to conduct regular monthly meetings to evaluate our emergency preparedness around the district, and we agreed to conduct additional threat assessments of all sorts.  Most important, I think, we recognized the critical importance of “being on the same page”, with each other and with the community, when it comes to the safety of our children and we pledged to redouble our efforts at communicating clearly, accurately and regularly.

As a superintendent, and as a mom, last week’s events in Newtown are about the worst thing I could ever imagine.  But if anything good could ever come out of something so terribly bad, it would be this:  the renewed realization that our children are our most precious commodity, and that their safety and well-being will ALWAYS be our first priority.  In that spirit, I welcome any and all suggestions you may have to help in this area.

On behalf of everyone here in the Holmdel School District, I extend best wishes for a truly happy and healthy holiday season spent with family and friends.

Sincerely,
Barbara Duncan
Superintendent

Chris December 21, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Marlboro's plan (permanent police presence, access to school surveillance, shatter proof glass) would be a lot more comforting than more scheduled drills sometime in the future...
bud December 21, 2012 at 10:32 PM
I remember having a police presence at the high school several years ago. Cannot remember why they were there? Anybody, anybody?
Bob Stevens December 21, 2012 at 11:04 PM
See how long it lasts when the property taxes skyrocket. Eight cops is going to cost over 1 million not counting benefits. Is the Governor going to rescind the 2% cap on budgets to pay for this. If not, other things will have to be cut (Sports, clubs, teachers, maintenance, etc). Is Holmdel prepared to pay for this also?
Nancy December 22, 2012 at 04:54 AM
You should ask the parents of those who lost a child last week if a million dollars would bring their child back.
Lynn Saporito December 22, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Unfortunately we're not going to be able to prevent everything, but at bare minimum we need to make it more difficult to enter our schools. I'd like to see our district install new security systems similar to the ones that Marlboro already has in place. Everyone who enters the Marlboro schools needs to show ID, and their district's security system is able to scan the ID and check visitors against various security databases: the school's own list of parents, the sex offender registry, etc. It should not be more difficult to get into the new BOE Administrative Offices than it is to get into our schools and gain access to our children, which is the case now.
Justine Coleman December 22, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Well said Lynn. Bob - At BOE meeting one parent suggested some of this cost be gathered by fundraising efforts. Maybe this is something HFEE could look into?
Nancy Stevens December 22, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Get Mayor Pat involved. He will get it done
Frances Novello January 02, 2013 at 02:21 PM
In addition to their already superior security system Marlboro will also have armed security guards stationed at all 9 of their schools starting today. What specifically is our school district doing to secure our schools, and when will the new security measures be put into place? http://newjersey.news12.com/news/armed-security-deployed-to-marlboro-schools-1.4396934?qr=1

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