Safety First: Revere School Committee To Plan Larger Meeting To Discuss School Safety and Protocols in Wake of Texas School Shooting

The Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas that killed 19 students and two teachers at the school is still very much on everyone’s mind, especially those who work daily at schools in Revere and across the country. At the most recent Revere School Committee Safety & Security Subcommittee meeting, committee member Susan Gravallese said the School Committee is planning to host a meeting on a larger scale to address questions and concerns from staff, families, students and the city as a whole. “I do want the community to know that we are planning, once we get dates available, to have another safety and security meeting on a larger scale,” said Gravallese. “This will include Captain O’Hara, who works very closely with Assistant Superintendent Gallucci and our school resource officers. We’ll also be inviting our chief of police and our chief of fire.” Committee member Carol Tye applauded the idea and said the events in Uvalde have made her reassess some policies she’s supported in the past that she and the other committee members may want to reconsider. “For example, I voted to have school on the day of elections, and after this (Uvalde) happened I’d be rethinking my position on that. Perhaps we really do not want outsiders and children in school at the same time,” said Tye. “Maybe it wouldn’t be wise not to have school on that day. So I would like to hear from the experts about what they say we are doing right, what we can do better, and what it is we’re not doing that we need to do.” Revere Public School Superintendent Dr. Dianne Kelly said school administrators do sit with the chief of police, the chief of fire and the School Resource Officers (SROs) and create comprehensive plans for each of our schools that get updated annually and those plans are shared with staff at the beginning of the school year. “They’re not something that we publish on our websites because we don’t want people with nefarious ideas understanding what our safety protocols and plans are because it could actually create safety risks,” said Kelly. “We don’t always put all of the information out there but there is information that we do share and the school committee will recall that after the last time we had an incident like this, we did host a community meeting and the chief of police and the chief of the fire department came and spoke at the school committee meeting and we were able to relay enough information that I think gave families some sense of security without relying too much information and that was based on their expert knowledge.” Kelly said that decisions about any changes to the structures of security in the school department are decisions that should be made between the chiefs of police and fire and herself and any proposals the school committee has, would feed into those changes. “But I do think that’s the level where decision making about any changes should happen,” said Kelly. “This is just so we can make sure that all perspectives are met when it comes to security. As the committee knows, especially those who have been here for a while. There is definitely some tension between creating spaces that might feel physically safe and secure because there are security people at every door or at one door or whatever the case may be. There are some districts that argue for metal detectors at all doors and there are other schools of thought that I openly ascribe to that focus on making sure that we are finding resources and support for kids who are demonstrating any kind of social or emotional disruption that requires they get support elsewhere outside of our schools.” Kelly said certainly there need to be adequate safety plans with RPS’s three SROs who are in different parts of the city and are assigned to different buildings and can respond as needed. However, these plans should be balanced with a student’s ability to come to a building that feels open and friendly and welcoming and engaging. “Without a doubt, there is work that we have to do in those areas,” she said. “I’m not trying to pretend like there’s nothing we can do to make ourselves better. I just want to caution against the knee jerk reaction that we sometimes get after these horrific events and people think that adding more security people is going to prevent this from happening in our schools. I believe that having staff who all love where they work and want to be part of that school community and culture and are vigilant about its safety plays a role in safety.” Kelly added that one of the issues in Uvalde was the fact that a teacher actually propped open a door while they went out to the parking lot to retrieve something that allowed easy entry for the shooter. “We say time and time again that our building needs to be left secured and people who don’t do that are creating a risk,” said Kelly. SRO Officer Joseph Singer reassured the committee that the response time witnessed in Uvalde would not occur in Revere. “According to Revere Police procedures we do not wait,” said Officer Singer. “My captain, my sergeant, my chief and my SWAT commander will back this up 100%. We go with what we have and God forbid something does happen in the school, an active shooter scenario, we are going with what we have. I’m sure there’ll be many teachers and many people in this building that’ll be right behind us.”

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