North Fork Schools Reps Revisit Security Rigors After Newtown Tragedy

Though 2009 Mattituck shooting near school 'nothing like what happened today,' principal is reminded of the shock ‪of the incident and the importance of school security procedures.

In the wake of a school shooting that has taken the lives of 26 people including 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, North Fork school officials are revisiting their own security procedures and are taking the tragedy as a reminder of how important those procedures are.

Mattituck High School Principal Shawn Petretti said that though the massacre is an incomparable horror, his staff and students experienced the fear of the unknown during a 2009 lockdown after a man living in a house neighboring the school shot off a rifle outside of his home, causing a bullet to break through an open classroom window and graze the head of a female senior student.

That student suffered only minor injuries and was back in school the next day, but the incident still haunts Petretti and staff members.

“What that incident did was remind us that, every time we run these drills, everyone understands that these things can really happen,” he said Friday afternoon. “Our incident was more of a freak thing — nothing like what happened today — but at the time, we really didn’t know. But due to training, we had lockdown plans in place and went right away to action and thankfully no one else was hurt. I look at school security and running drills through a different lens now, because we lived it.”

Newtown Patch is reporting that the gunman who rampaged through the Sandy Hook Elementary School was armed with four guns including a high-powered rifle and is believed to have shot and killed up to 30 people including 18 children. Investigators have identified the gunman “as a man in his 20s from Connecticut and are searching his father’s home in New Jersey,” according to WABC Channel 7. Connecticut State Police spokesman Lt. Paul Vance said the gunman was found dead inside the school.

Read ongoing updates on the school shooting on Newtown Patch here.

Petretti said that Mattituck High School continues a very rigorous and detailed security plan for all types of scenarios and that Friday’s tragedy has made staff remember and reexamine the importance of those plans.

“We go so far as running fire drills between periods, and I can tell you that we can account for every kid in the building in about 10 minutes,” he said. “But without putting the building behind concrete walls, any school is suspect to the evils that are out there.”

Greenport School Principal Len Skuggevik said that reminders of emergency lockdown and evacuation drill procedures were sent out digitally on Friday to staff members, and that the school was on alert after the news from Connecticut broke.

“This is obviously an absolute tragedy, we are all sickened by news, and our hearts go out to family, friends and the entire community,” he said. “We are reminded today of our own very clear and precise procedures — which we hope we will never have to use.”

Skuggevik added that all doors of the school are locked and that everyone has to enter and exit through the front doors, which are monitored all day to ensure the safety of Greenport students.

In school district Superintendent David Gamberg said that he and his staff also revisited their own emergency procedures after hearing of the tragedy on Friday, and the school can request extra police presence at anytime.

“If we feel that anything warrants special attention, we’re in touch with the police department and they will be here as a reminder and to heighten awareness of security,” he said.  “Schools have to be diligent and proactive with these kinds of things.”

Gamberg added that he and staff members met Friday afternoon to discuss how they will address the Newtown tragedy and the importance of their own school’s security in the classroom next week as children try to understand what happened.

“We need to be remindful but also be careful to not overdramatize the importance of security, especially for the younger children in the elementary school,” he said. “We don’t want to scare them, but they need to remember how important it is to pay close attention to adult supervision. The reason we ask them to be quiet during a drill is because we want to keep them as safe as possible.”

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EMS December 16, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Although Southold schools have their lock down procedures both schools are unlocked the entire school day giving access to anyone that knows how to open a door. Might want to look into changing that considering the possibilities out there.
Concerned December 16, 2012 at 05:50 PM
That is a frightening fact that they are open campuses. Lockdown is an emergency plan to react to a violence or potential for violence. Access security is a preventative set of controls to mitigate the risk of violence against the students and teachers. Parents need immediately demand acess security before its too late
Sapere Aude December 18, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Sorry, but I don't think that is accurate, unless they've become less secure in the past two years since I was there; the only door that is accessible from the outside is the side entrance that is used for general comings and goings. There is a desk there where visitors must sign in. I'm not saying that that would actually stop any disaster since it is just an aide at the desk, not anyone with any kind of security training (preferably a plain clothes security officer) but it does prevent non violent unauthorized access.
Joan January 17, 2013 at 04:31 PM
Are we turning our schools into prisons now? Don't they already have drug sweeps like they do in prison? The term "lockdown" is a term formerly used only in prisons. I'm all for security but sending children to school with armed guards is not a good solution. What's next putting razor wire around the schools? Bars on the windows? Why do we want to prepare our children for prison? I don't think that armed guards in school will make kids feel safer. And how long will it be until an armed guard flips out and starts shooting? We need less guns not more. The easy accessibility to firearms is the problem here and needs to be controlled, and not just assault weapons either. I know that there will be vehement dissension about this but that's because the gun lovers apparently care more about their guns than they do about our children. Perhaps we should get guns for all of our school children to carry so that they can protect themselves. The Newtown shooting was a monstrous tragedy but to think that we can protect ourselves from every disaster imaginable is a fantasy.
Concerned January 17, 2013 at 07:16 PM
Joan Common sense security is a must. For example security cameras and locked doors., and where there is a glass panel next to the locked entry door, it should have an artful and pleasant welded grating system so that a gun man cannot shoot out the glass panel and bye pass the door. The security cameras and an emergency call button to the local police calling for help. What if an alarm is sounded from the school office and immediately the firedoors which many shools have installed to stop fires from spreading, shut and lock so the gunman cannot roam the halls. I am not a gun supporter, but i am sure no matter what we do crazy people will find a way to kill with guns or whatever. We need secure schools and safety codes just like we have fire codes. A lock down drill is the same as a fire drill it just makes sense to be prepared.


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