School leaders discuss campus security

By From page A1 | December 15, 2012

FAIRFIELD — When mass shootings in schools happen, the effects tend to trickle down to the local level as questions about safety are raised by parents.

Fairfield-Susuin School District Superintendent Jacki Cottingim-Dias understands the concerns and talked Friday about how the district is affected emotionally, but not procedurally.

“We’re shocked and I’m horrified. Anything that involves children is particularly tragic. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected,” she said. “Right now I’m sure every parent is devastated and scared. The first place you go is, ‘Oh my god, is my child safe.’ We want them to know they are as safe as humanly possible.”

Cottingim-Dias said the schools continue to keep on guard and on alert. She said other than that, there’s not much a district can do.

“We’ve been on the phone with police. We have our crisis protocols. Beyond that and being alert, as they always are, there is no reason to suspect we are in danger here,” she said. “God forbid something will occur, police will be swift.”

As for those calling for more security, Cottingim-Dias said frankly, when faced with the reality, it’s tough to prepare for a deranged person who sets out to commit the type of violence that occurred Friday in Connecticut. She said what some people often fail to discuss is dealing with those who may be disturbed or need mental help.

“Locks are no match for bullets,” she said. “The best thing people can do when they have someone in a family or close circle of friends that becomes agitated, is reach out. Contact family, clergy or authorities. Let people know so they can do a risk assessment.”

There was equal sorrow at the Solano County Office of Education. Superintendent Jay Speck released a statement about the shooting and offered some contacts for people to use to help them cope.

“Our hearts go out to the victims, families, school staff, and community that have suffered this unimaginable tragedy,” Speck said in a press release. “All of us who work with children know how deeply affected they will be. As parents and school staff, we need to reassure our students we will do everything we can to keep them safe.”

Resources for coping with tragedy from the California Department of Education and the National Association of School Psychologists have been posted on the Solano County Office of Education website at www.solanocoe.net, and the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Solano-County-Office-of-Education/180249648698807.

Reach Danny Bernardini at 427-6935 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dbernardinidr.

Danny Bernardini

Danny Bernardini

Danny is a newspaper man born and raised in Vacaville. He attended Chico State University and has written for the Enterprise Record and the Reporter. Covers the City of Fairfield, education and crime. A's, Warriors and Saints fan. Listener of vinyl, frequent visitor to the East Bay. Registered "decline to state" voter. Loves a good steak.

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  • Marie RobichauDecember 15, 2012 - 11:04 am

    I was not only saddened by the events of December 14th, I was outraged that innocent children were targeted in what should have been a safe place for them to play, learn and interact. We, as a nation, need to look at how safeguards at schools can be improved upon and then put resources behind those safeguards so that NO child is ever harmed in this manner again. After 9-11 we placed safeguards ensuring that passengers were screened so that we would once, again, feel safe flying. Don't our children, parents, teachers, etc, deserve the same feeling of being safe in a school setting - after all our children are our most precious resources. I've heard some folks saying how these acts of violence are random and rarely committed; however, one act of violence at a school is one too many! If you believe as I do, please be so kind as to go to the web-site http://wh.gov/RRkc and sign my "We the People" petition so that our government knows that we are serious about affecting some level of change on a national level - there is only so much our individual districts can do!

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