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Clinton Township

December 26, 2012

L’Anse Creuse strengthening security

By Julie Snyder
C & G Staff Writer

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — In light of the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14, officials at L’Anse Creuse Public Schools are taking a closer look at their security and safety procedures.

Kelly Allen, director for public and community relations for the 11,000-student district, said L’Anse Creuse upholds rigorous safety procedures that are reviewed regularly, and there are multiple safety drills in place for each school that are practiced throughout the school year.

The district sent home several letters to all district parents the week after the shooting at Sandy Hook, in an effort to ease tensions and answer questions about L’Anse Creuse’s security policies and procedures.

“We have reviewed all of our security measures and made sure that all of them are being followed,” said Allen. “We made sure that each building principal is going back to their staff and making sure they are going through those measures, as well. We feel comfortable with what we are presently doing.”

On Dec. 14, the day a man armed with two guns forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and fatally shot 20 children and six school staff members, L’Anse Creuse schools were placed into a “shelter-in-place mode,” during which time all doors were locked and students stayed inside for the remainder of the day.

In a Dec. 17 letter to parents, Allen stated, “Today and moving forward, our staff members are following everyday safety procedures; all but the front doors will be locked to ensure all visitors in the building go through a sign-in process, our school will review lockdown procedures, and supervisory levels will remain high during recess and bus loading and unloading.”

Allen also assured parents that school staff would not be discussing the incident at Sandy Hook with students, out of respect for individual parental decisions.

During the last week of classes before holiday break, the district tried out a buzz-to-enter system at Lobbestael Elementary School in Harrison Township. All visitors were greeted at the door by a staff member, who checked identification and directed each visitor to the main office for sign-in and/or a visitor’s pass.

Allen said the district wanted to test the effectiveness of such a system, based on traffic at the school. She said the district will be looking into the possibility of purchasing and installing buzz-to-enter systems for each of its 17 elementary, middle and high schools, as well as the Pankow Center.

Unfortunately that week, the district, as well as many other schools districts around the region, had to contend with rumors the week leading up to break, regarding threats of shootings.

On Dec. 20, Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham confirmed that some of his deputies responded to L’Anse Creuse High School, as a result of one such rumor — an unknown student reportedly said he or she was planning to bring a gun to school on Friday, Dec. 21.

“We weren’t able to determine who actually said it. It was one of those things where one student told one student, who told another student, who told another student that someone had said something …,” said Wickersham. “It was unfounded.”

Allen said the district works closely with the Sheriff’s Department in cases such as this. She too said the rumor was just that, and school commenced on scheduled Dec. 21 without incident.

“With what happened at Sandy Hook and the date (Dec. 21, which some believed the Mayan calendar foretold as the end of the world), creating rumors like this, and unfortunately with social media, these rumors grow much quicker, concerns people even more. It really puts a fear in everybody,” said Allen.

“We want to have a smooth and happy last day before the holiday. Safety is our No. 1 priority, and it’s all we’ve looking at this week. It’s been all encompassing because, if the kids are safe and feel safe, they can learn. If they don’t feel safe, they can’t learn,” Allen said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Julie Snyder at jsnyder@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1039.