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Speak Out: How Much Security Should Montgomery County Schools Have?

A school safety meeting is scheduled for Jan. 16.

How much security is the right amount of security for Montgomery County’s public school students?

Following the shock of December’s tragic shootings in Newtown, CT, parents and family members of students at Bradley Hills Elementary in Bethesda have written to county leaders asking for security improvements at the elementary school’s temporary location, according to a Wednesday Gazette report.

Students and teachers at Bradley Hills currently are housed at the Radnor Center, while the school undergoes modernization, scheduled for completion in August.

“Our school has no security system in place and our front door remains unlocked throughout the school day with no mechanism for screening visitors,” parents wrote, according to the report.

While county spokesman Dana Tofig said he could not comment on specific security measures at individual schools, he did say that each school has specific security measures in place, and staff and teachers are trained for emergency procedures.

“All doors other than the main entrance are supposed to be kept locked during the school day,” he told The Gazette. “There is signage on the front door instructing all visitors to report to the main office.”

Community members across the county have reflected on the security of public schools since the Newtown tragedy:

“As a mom of 4, I can't imagine a greater loss for a parent such as a senseless act like this that snatches away innocent lives,” said Wheaton Patch blogger Frances Frost. “As for our elementary schools, I feel like my children are relatively safe, although the portables do make me a little nervous. But I realize that no-one can be 100% safe all the time and I pray that every day my children come home safely."

The Montgomery County Council of PTAs has scheduled a school safety forum for 7 p.m. on Jan. 16 at the Carver Auditorium in Rockville. Speakers will include Doug Steel from MCPS security and Capt. Luther Reynolds, Montgomery County 5th police district commander, according to Susan Burkinshaw, a health and safety chairwoman of the organization. County council members and Police Chief Tom Manger may also be in attendance, she said.

Do you think locked doors are enough security for Montgomery County’s students? What issues would you like to discuss at the school safety meeting?

Beth January 05, 2013 at 04:28 PM
A multi-pronged approach to safety is what we need. MCPS is constantly modernizing school entries (but money is tight and education doesn't often get the green it needs to handle the growth in terms of numbers and needs). It's time for Montgomery County to get behind the Demand a Plan movement (http://www.demandaplan.org/), which will ask for federal and state level bans on assault weapons. Here in Montgomery County, we need to demand full funding by the MCPD and the County Council of the School Resource Officer program and we need to continue to push MCPS and County Council for Capital Improvement funding for safety modernizations (both entryway and office configurations but also software including the visitor management systems). Come out to the County Executive's town hall forums (http://www6.montgomerycountymd.gov/apps/News/press/PR_details.asp?PrID=9089) and tell him what we need!
Darla Tagrin January 06, 2013 at 04:41 PM
The only thing that ensures is that the guard would be the first one to be shot.
Andrew March 08, 2013 at 01:32 PM
Why don't you go live in those other countries you hold in such high regard for their gun laws.
Andrew March 08, 2013 at 01:36 PM
Fear would be the symptom, and don't you think that someone may have a little fear of ROBBING YOU if they thought you may be carrying a gun to protect yourself with. Criminals know they have the upper hand in areas where guns are not permitted by the law abiding citizens. You fight crime where crime is.
Andrew March 08, 2013 at 01:41 PM
Roaming patrol give's an armed officer the element of suprise, and the intruder the uncertainty of the location of the officer. It's not too much to ask that the one tasked with protecting a school do that by patroling the school. Hope that helps answer your question Joe.

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