Following an hour-long lockdown of Andrew Avenue School Wednesday, parents and guardians have questioned why the school district did not notify them immediately of the situation.
The lockdown was called at 8:55 a.m. after police received reports of gunshots in the area of the school. It was called off at 10 a.m. after police realized students were not in danger. Later in the day, police said the reported gunshot sounds ended up being made by illegal fireworks.
In an attempt to get answers about the procedures for notifying parents, we sat down with Edward Bozenski, director of security for the Naugatuck Public School system. Here is what he said:
“When a school goes into an actual lockdown, notification is not put out officially until the situation is all clear. Obviously, we don’t want parents, friends and relatives showing up at the school; we want to keep everyone safe. We don’t want them walking into a bad situation, if that is what is happening. I know obviously they are concerned, but they have to trust the administration, faculty and staff to do the proper job for what our policies call for, whether it be a lockdown or an evacuation.
“The media, they usually monitor police frequencies, and they may get the information quicker than a parent gets it (from the school district). Obviously, the school does have a responsibility to let parents know what happened after the fact. Obviously, during an actual lockdown code, the teachers, administrators and other staff are going to do what they are supposed to be doing: keeping the kids safe. The police responded, and I’m sure they kept vehicles and pedestrians out of the area.
“…There is a heightened since Sandy Hook (which occurred on Dec. 14) all over the country. I think in the Andrew Avenue situation, everyone responded well. Someone heard what sounded like a gunshot and called it in.”
Active Shooter Drills in Schools
“We’re going to be having drills over the school district called Code Black drills. We want to see who the first person is to recognize the bad guy. It will be a police officer posing as an intruder. Police will be involved, as will security and administration here at the high school. (Principal) Jan Saam is coordinating with the police. So it’s a good thing that we’re doing training exercises. There will be no surprises; the students will know when the drill is. We just want to make sure that everybody responds the way they should.
“…I know some (schools) have already done active shooter drills. It’s something that’s going to be on our agenda every year to practice.”
Read more about Naugatuck’s school security responses since Sandy Hook here and a letter to the editor from Bozenski regarding security here.