Sharyland ISD responds to Connecticut shooting

As students and teachers returned to school this week, in light of Friday TMs school shooting in Connecticut, school districts around the valley are re-evaluating their emergency procedures and security systems.

Sharyland ISD superintendent Dr. Virginia Richter is reviewing the district's crisis management handbook.

Richter called a senior staff meeting Monday morning to discuss school safety and has already decided to implement new safety protocols.

"We will go back to mandatory badges for all employees of the district, whether you are a custodian, groundskeeper, teacher, principal, or para, Richter said.

Once a month every school in the district conducts a fire drill, twice a year every school practices a lock down, but now Richter says she wants to implement evacuation drills.

"We need them to have experienced it so that if it does happen they are not going to be running all over wondering what's happening, Richter said.

Principal of Shary Elementary, Pamela Montalvo says they have recently made improvements to increase campus security.

"We used to have a desk and we would have parents come in and then some people would get by us so I asked politely if I could get this and I was lucky enough with budget restraints I could get this, Montalvo said referring to the schools new security doors.

The doors were just installed over Thanksgiving break to insure every visitor checks in at the office and gets a name tag before being permitted inside.

Before visitors can go inside, ID's are scanned to verify they are not a sex offender.

"It's helped a lot because we are able to control who is coming and going in our campus, Montalvo said. We are aware of who comes in, who leaves, and the parents. Students safety is always a property in our minds and making sure my staff is safe is always in my mind."

Shary Elementary has six security cameras around the campus but Dr. Richter says nothing can guarantee a tragic event such as what happened in Connecticut won TMt happen in her district.

"If I told a parent, ~no this could not happen, TM I would be lying, Richter said. Will a camera stop someone who is mentally unstable? That has a gun? No, not even a locked door will stop someone like that, but can we better prepare ourselves can we put some obstacles in the way to give more time to students and staff inside? Yes.

A discussion of the district's security detail is on the agenda for Tuesday night's school board meeting.

If you would like it attend, it is open to the public at 6 p.m.

The district also plans to review its emergency procedures with the staff on their next professional work day in January.