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CT Shooting Prompts Police Presence at Montville Schools

Superintendent said heightened security is 'important on the heels of what happened Friday.'

The police officers standing outside Montville Township Public Schools Monday served not only to protect the students and faculty members inside each building, but to comfort parents outside as well.

As students returned to school Monday for the first time , Superintendent Dr. Paul Fried said the district worked to keep students ingrained in their routines and ensure normalcy. The most noticeable difference, however, was the officers' presence outside.

"I think it's important, on the heels of what happened Friday, for us to help everyone feel more secure," Fried said. "We want to help our parents, our childen and our staff feel as secure as possible."

Fried said the district is working with the Montville Township Police Department to achieve that and while the officers may appear to be more present this week, police Capt. Ed Rosellini said officers have always maintained a presence at the schools.

"I think that this week just makes it all come to light, as far as the safety issue goes," Rosellini said. "It's something that we're always up on."

Rosellini said patrols at the schools will likely be increased through the holidays.

"We're always there, but we're going to make ourselves a little bit more noticeable this week just to make it more comfortable for the residents," he said.

District administrators also made a point of being seen in the schools Monday as Fried said he, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Casey Shorter and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Andrea Selvaggi all visited the schools in the morning. Fried said he wanted to get a feel for how students and teachers were coping after the incident.

"I think, overall, the students are doing well," he said. "They seem relaxed, they were engaged in instruction."

Fried said some teachers encouraged conversation about the event when they felt it was appropriate and necessary.

"Sometimes questions can be answered very easily and sometimes it involves more conversation," he said.

A few students did visit school guidance counselors to express their feelings about the shootings, Fried said, but no students left school early as of Monday afternoon. Faculty members also seemed to be doing well, he said.

In the days and weeks that follow, district leaders and Montville Township Board of Education members will begin to take a closer look at the district's security systems, plans and policies. Fried said discussions and planning of such items were already in motion, but now will be prioritized after the Newtown incident. One such policy that may be revised is the school lockdown policy, Fried said, which was originally scheduled to be voted on upon second reading at Tuesday night's board meeting. Now, Fried said he would like the board and associated committees to spend time taking a closer look at what should be included in the policy.

"We actually want a little more time to look at it again," Fried said. "On the policy level, we're paying a lot of attention."

Attention will also be paid to the security infrastructure, although Fried did not go into detail, for safety reasons, about what that infrastructure includes.

Examining safety procedures is not a new practice of the district's, rather a proactive and ongoing consideration, the superintendent said. Fried said Montville schools underwent a voluntary safety audit last year.

"We were one of only a few districts in all of Morris County that opted to have this done," he said. "We've already started to implement some changes in our schools connected with that audit. We will continue to follow the recommendations of that audit and any more changes."

Fried said the district will also continue to practice safety emergency drills. All of the safety information has been or will be communicated to district parents through letters and in a commentary Fried said he plans to make at Tuesday's board meeting, which will be held at 8 p.m. at the township municipal building.

While the administrators will work to consider any new safety precautions that should be implemented, Fried said he does feel that Montville schools are safe.

"We feel confident about what's in place right now, but we know that it can never be enough," he said.

Maxim Sapozhnikov December 18, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Yesterday, I received a mass-mailing from Dr. Fried. While he seems clearly and sincerely concerned about safety of our children, I did not appreciate him weaving liberal gun control propaganda into his message. He is perfectly within his right to push his personal political opinion as a private citizen, but he should not be allowed to use district resources to do so. Anger, panic, and hysteria are natural emotional reactions to a disaster of such magnitude but they should not be a controlling factor in decision-making. Fifty times more children die in car crashes every year than in school shootings, yet no one calls for driving bans. I hope that an acceptable solution will be found that will ensure students' safety without compromising Constitutional rights of American citizens or busting city's budget.
Rosie December 18, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Maxim, How can you compare a automobile accident with someone coming into a school with an assault weapon that can kill so many people in a matter of minutes? There is no comparison. As for a liberal thing, I am a parent and a grandparent and I worry about my children and little ones everyday because of people who think that killing with a gun is an okay thing. This has nothing to do with politices. It is just common sense. We do not live in the 1700s when these laws were made. Miliitia meant army. Not everyday living. Maybe you should tajke another look at your children tonight and think about what you just wrote above. it has not hit you yet. I lost a son five years ago from a heart attack. Yes, he was not 5 or 6 but does this matter? The loss of a child no matter what age, never goes away. The pain does not get lighter; it gets heavier each and every day that you live without that child. Put your politics away and be a human being with a heart and soul. We do have choices in this matter and, so far, the Repubs have been silent on this issue. So typical for them just to work for the good of the people.
Rosie December 18, 2012 at 02:29 PM
My last sentences should have read: We do have choices in this matter and, so far, the Repubs have been silent on this issue. So typical for them just to work AGAINST the good of the people. Sorry if I confused you, Maxim.
Maxim Sapozhnikov December 18, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Rosie, thank you for your thoughtful response, even if I don't agree with some of its arguments. I perfectly understand your worry for your grandchild because I share it, as my daughter goes to one of Montville's schools. I try, however, not to let my worry make important decisions for me. We cannot protect our children from every imaginable danger unless we lock them in a padded room and throw away the keys, and even then they will somehow manage to scrape a knee. :) Before I came to the USA, I lived in Israel - a country where citizens risks their lives and limbs just by stepping out, and where every mall, every cafe, and every school bus can turn into a deathtrap in a matter of seconds. As you may imagine, there is no shortage of "assault rifles" there. And people welcome them. These rifles are, very often, what stands between them and the death when another deranged "freedom fighter" wants his piece of paradise with 72 virgins. You know, madmen and criminals are always armed because they don't give a rat's arse for laws, morals, and gun-free zones. Someone has to stop them. And I wish that someone would always have a good rifle to make his or her work easier.
Gil December 18, 2012 at 03:16 PM
We need to look at the High School policies. As of last week I could walk into the school, go into the office, sign in and take a visitors pass then leave and walk through the halls. All this without anyone in the office looking up from their desk.
Maxim Sapozhnikov December 18, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Gil, I am about to ask the very same question on today's BoE meeting. That's where the real security problem is, not how many bullets fit into a magazine...
anna January 01, 2013 at 04:50 PM
Gil, my kids go to Valley View and it's the same, you ring the bell and you go right in. It's not up to a school secretary to keep the school safe. I feel like theres no security whatsoever! Regardless of being let in or not, if you have a weapon of that nature, the door is irrelevant. These teachers/staff need to be given "tools" to protect their classrooms individually once an active shooter does enter their school. Right now, they are there for the taking, no tools, no protection. None!
anna January 01, 2013 at 04:54 PM
they love to use the word "audit" they audited the school security, they audited the police department....come on! and so they say "well, we did the audit and it said our schools are safe"

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