DANBURY, Conn. – Tension filled the auditorium at Broadview Middle School on Thursday night as outraged parents demanded answers about safety in the Danbury Public School District while city officials and the Board of Education addressed safety procedures, long-term safety goals and asked for the public’s input.
Much of the meeting was heated, with some audience members’ shouts interrupting the officials at the workshop designed to look at safety issues after the deadly Newtown school shootings last month.
“In that school those kids are sitting ducks,” a woman shouted in reference to King Street Intermediate School, which as an open floor plan. “I’ve walked into that school plenty of times, and no one’s stopped me.”
Mayor Mark Boughton addressed the comment, telling the audience to alert him directly, via phone, email, Facebook or Twitter, if they are allowed into any school building without being questioned by staff.
Along with Boughton and the Board of Education, Superintendent Sal Pascarella, Deputy Superintendent Bill Glass, Police Chief Alan Baker and other district officials were on hand to give information and answer questions.
Despite the issues raised by some parents, Boughton and other officials said Danbury is ahead of the curve when it comes to school safety. The high school has four police officers on campus, two monitoring inside and two outside, as well as six safety advocates, who check hall passes and ensure no one is roaming the halls, Boughton said. Each middle school has a school resource police officer and a safety advocate, while each elementary school was recently assigned a private security guard, he said.
To improve security further, the district will work with safety consultants to determine which procedures need to be changed or upgraded, Boughton said. Small measures aren’t enough, some parents said, and some called for armed officers at every school.
“My child was not safe,” a woman shouted from the crowd, in response to how the district handled the events of Dec. 14.
Boughton and Pascarella warned the crowd about the potential drawbacks of putting more guns in schools, which did little to convince many of the audience members, dozens of whom signed a pro-armed guard petition circling throughout the meeting.
“Prior to this incident, we were lazy,” Bougton said, and called for everyone in the Danbury community to remain vigilant.