Printed from the blog of Lori Greene, AHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI
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Email: lori_greene@allegion.com, Blog: www.idighardware.com or www.ihatehardware.com


Oct 23 2018

FEMA PrepTalks: Rethinking School Safety

Category: School Security,VideosLori @ 11:22 am Comments (2)
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During Safe Schools Week, I can’t think of a better way to keep us focused on school safety and security than to hear from Michele Gay of Safe and Sound Schools.  Michele is the mom of Josephine Gay, a first-grade student who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.  I have worked closely with Michele through the Secure Schools Alliance, and I had the privilege of hearing Michele’s story during the DHI coNextions conference last May.  Since that day I have been wishing that you could all hear Michele’s perspective.

FEMA has posted an abbreviated version of Michele’s talk, and I am so pleased to be able to share it with you now.  Please watch.

View in FEMA Multimedia Library

Audience Q&A from Michele’s presentation:

View in FEMA Multimedia Library

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2 Responses to “FEMA PrepTalks: Rethinking School Safety”

  1. Eric T says:

    You should put a warning on this post that it is likely to upset people (especially those with children). It really hit me hard because, as you know, I recently experienced a real threat at the school where one of my children attend. Thankfully, the threat has been dealt with for now and likely for the duration of my child’s education at that particular school. As Michelle stated, most of us have the “NOT HERE” attitude. I, admittedly, had that same attitude.

    Michelle did a fantastic job. She is a natural speaker and I’m particularly impressed by her ability to spread her message without making herself out to be a victim. Although she does, eventually, mention that she lost her youngest daughter in this tragedy, that isn’t the message she is trying to spread. I was very touched.

    Unfortunately, there are few of us that will be motivated by any of this until/unless they are personally affected by a similar threat or an actual tragedy. As noted above, I fell into that “NOT HERE” category. However, after the threat at my child’s school, I was on a mission. I was certainly motivated. I set out to gather as much information as possible and to do whatever I could, with my door and hardware expertise, to MAKE SURE my child’s school was the safest around…..at least in terms of the doors/hardware. I was trying to bring others on board to help (glass companies I’ve dealt with, security professionals, contractors, etc.). Like the rest of us, they were all too busy. After all, they weren’t likely to profit from helping. Public projects advertise for bids and require at least 3 bids before they will open and read the bids. The profits are low and headaches are numerous. Who needs that when there is an abundance of private work available with higher margins and open specs?

    I hit one road block after another. I found that the school principal relies on the county school board and the school board believes they are already experts and don’t need any help. I have a good friend on the school board (although not in the security dept.) that I tried to use as leverage to reach out to the security department so I could at least get them to listen to me for 5 minutes. They don’t want to hear from me or anyone else. I’m not sure if they think I’m trying to sell them something or if they are just too arrogant to think an outsider could help. They are comprised of retired law enforcement officers and security guards. They know everything and are up-to-date on the newest innovations and, therefore, close their doors to outside assistance.

    I’ve also met with the mayor and the police chief. I’ve written to local legislators and left messages at every office of anyone that I thought might care. I’ve yet to get a return call or response to a letter. As Michelle stated, keeping our kids safe is something someone else will do.

    It is extremely frustrating to say the least. If you have any suggestions for how to overcome these barriers, they would certainly be welcomed.

    • Lori says:

      Hi Eric –

      Thank you for sharing your experience here. As I told you when we talked about what was going on at your kids’ school, I understand your frustration. At a school that my kids previously attended, I offered to help with information for a planned lock upgrade. The school was built in the 1970’s and most classrooms had no doors at all, and any rooms that did have doors had knobs. Most of the keys were long-gone. I met with the person responsible more than once, I brought in our key systems specialist to help with the keying, and I suggested some companies that I knew would give us a good price.

      Imagine my surprise when we returned from summer break to find new doors with traditional classroom function locks! There is definitely a disconnect, and like you, I am open to suggestions.

      – Lori

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