You might see from the chart about school security on our front page today that Pocono Mountain School District was absent.
We surveyed all school districts in the Poconos and asked for yes/no answers to a list of straightforward questions concerning some features of school security.
For instance, we asked whether districts require visitors to sign in and show ID or whether they have school resource officers or metal detectors.
We wanted to better inform readers ahead of a town hall-style meeting about school security being hosted tonight by Stroudsburg School Superintendent John Toleno.
We also wanted to better inform parents and taxpayers throughout our area generally about which districts have commonplace security measures in place and how their district compares with others.
The idea is to readily empower you with information.
Not all parents and taxpayers can be expected to attend school board meetings or ask these questions themselves at their son or daughter’s school.
So for instance, say you now learned that your district lacked metal detectors.
If you feel strongly about it, it’s a question you can now explore with elected school officials and administrators.
But if you never knew that in the first place, how could you act on such missing information?
Which brings us back to Pocono Mountain.
In response to a Pocono Record inquiry, district spokeswoman Wendy Frable replied Tuesday: “I cannot in good conscience provide the Pocono Record with a checklist of the security measures we have in place throughout the district, because to do so goes against the school safety recommendations we have consistently received from safety experts over the years.”
In a lengthier comment, she went on to say, in part: “We reached out to our police chiefs Friday afternoon to discuss school safety. … We have many security measures in place. Some of those measures are visible to visitors, other measures are not. Our security measures are flexible, and we adapt our security measures to meet any new needs that arise.”
In our request to the districts, we asked about measures that are out in the open or common knowledge.
We didn’t ask for secret codes used by staffers or copies of evacuation plans or blueprints of school buildings.
What we sought to do is inventory these measures. How the districts stack up against each other? That’s for you to decide.
We talked to Larry Banaszak, chief of police at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, and a consultant to schools on dealing with “active shooters.”
He said the public has a right to know what safety measures a school district has but added that he could understand why a district might be reluctant to share such information.
While a district might think that sharing could make it vulnerable, it could also discourage would-be attackers when they see how proactive a district is, he said.
Further, Banaszak said he didn’t think the checklist sought by the Pocono Record was so revealing as to make a district vulnerable.
In the wake of the heart-wrenching shootings in Newtown, Conn., we believe it’s a good time to take stock of security at our schools.
The goal of our reporting is to allow taxpayers and parents to decide if existing measures are adequate or more needs to be done.
What do you think?
Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your thoughts.