School Safety Forum

By: Philip Stewart Email
By: Philip Stewart Email

April 11, 2007

On Wednesday night, parents, teachers, school administrators and even some students got a chance to talk about what worked well and what didn't work so well on the morning that threatening notes and suspicious packages were found at two county schools.

"I just wanted to see what had been done to take care of the situation and what is being done now," said parent Buffy Donahoo.

She, along with dozens of other parents, got answers to their questions about how things were handled by the Albemarle County School District the day of the incident.

It was a unique opportunity to hear from school leaders, a child psychologist, members of the media and local law enforcement.

"We have school safety plans, that we have communication plans, and that what they will take out of here is that we had a very thoughtful process," said Diane Behrens, Executive Director of Support Service in the Albemarle County School District.

"Understandably people are upset, but I think if you know more about what we do and how we do it and why we do things I think it definitely helps inform the public and ease anxiety," said Lt. John Teixeira.

Last night was especially helpful to parents.

"I think there were some ways that this could have gone a little bit more smoothly, but it sounds like everybody is really working hard to work those kinks out," said parent Beth White.

"It wasn't just yes thank you for giving us your questions and thank you for coming, they are going to be addressed," said Donahoo.

Most parents were happy with the way the situation was handled, but some also thought things like moving students to alternate locations or having more security in schools could be helpful if a similar situation were to happen again.

A group of students even participated.

"We really just wanted to get the student voice, be able to provide input for them all tomorrow and try and get their feedback as well," said Western Albemarle student Mackenzie Doss.

Those students are part of a leadership group. They will take their notes from the meeting back to school for their own forum. They say they are trying to get students involved in this discussion process as well.

As for the investigation into the bomb threats, police could not go into specifics, but they do say there are no further suspects in the case.

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