'We Owe It to Our Children': Birmingham Superintendent Vows to Review Safety Rules
Birmingham Schools Superintendent Daniel Nerad says 'we need to feel a sense of shame' about the Newtown shooting, promises review of school safety procedures by end of January.
According to Birmingham Superintendent Daniel Nerad, student safety at Birmingham Public Schools is a top priority — but there's always more that can be done.
That's why Birmingham Schools will soon be embarking on a review of the district's safety and security policies, a move sparked by the recent shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, CT.
During that incident, 27 people — including 20 children, six adults and the shooter — died at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Immediately following the shooting, Nerad released a statement, noting "our children are precious."
Like many surrounding school districts, Birmingham Schools then stepped up security measures at all buildings Monday, bringing in officers from the Birmingham and Beverly Hills police departments, upping the adult presence in the hallways and locking all exterior doors during the school day.
According to Nerad, the move was "preventative" and he assured parents that the district woud be conducting a thorough review of the district's safety procedures in light of the tragedy.
Those were the sentiments Nerad conveyed to the Birmingham Board of Education during their meeting Tuesday.
"The past few days have reminded us of the fragility of human life," Nerad said. "(Including) the loss of babies literally before they could realize what they wanted to be in life."
"I personally believe we need to feel a sense of shame," he added. "We must commit to doing better for children and for our schools."
While Birmingham has several security procedures in place, Nerad said the district would be reinforcing many of the most important, including locking all exterior doors with the exception of a school's main entrance. All school visitors must also check in with the main office, including employees from other buildings. When appropriate, visitors may also be requested to provide identification.
But whether this is enough will be the topic of a thorough review of safety procedures to be conducted beginning at the end of winter recess through the end of January, Nerad said.
One parent at Tuesday's school board meeting said it's time for this conversation, particularly following the stepped-security on Monday which, she said, fell short of expectations.
"I've had great communications with the superintendent and my principal," she said. "But I am still having trouble understanding why we can not lock the front door at this point. ... A lot of parents are unhappy with how things have gone forward."
Part of this review work includes working more closely with the city and various community groups, Nerad said.
"We do have contemporary practices (regarding safety), but it's time for a new conversation," Nerad told the Birmingham City Commission during their regular meeting Monday night.
"There are a lot of strong elements in place in this community that support children," Nerad added. "But we can't take anything for granted ... I see a lot of similiarities between (Birmingham and Newtown)."
Any parent or community members with ideas or concerns are encouraged to contact Deputy Superintendent for Educational Services Paul DeAngelis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 248-203-3010.
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Do you think Birmingham Schools are safe? What kind of rules should the district re-evaluate to make schools safer?