BROOKVILLE — Concern for the safety of students following a report of a possible planned shooting at the high school last week raised quite a few questions at Monday night’s meeting of the Brookville Area School Board.
The discussion began with visitor Suzanne Russell, mother of a 10th grade student. “I didn’t feel it was acceptable to not be told and to find out in the media. I question how much board members even knew. I feel in this day and age of email, text, voice messages and how much communication we get on other things at school, we should have been notified about this. I understand the confidentiality of students involved. I understand not wanting to jeopardize the investigation. I don’t need names, but I do need to know that an incident was discovered, that there was police investigation and that the safety of my children was not compromised. I feel this should have been done a little bit sooner.”
Later in the meeting board member Rick Ortz asked, “As a parent I’m just wondering what extra precautions we have when we have a threat? Do we have extra precautions? Do we have extra police there, staff to make sure?”
Superintendent Robin Fillman said she had talked with “Chief Markle. There were a lot of student investigations, not just the students who made the threat. There was not extra staff put in, however there were extra precautions taken by our existing school police officer and the police officer that sits on Jenks Street every morning.”
She apologized that the message became public through the media before an announcement was made by the school. “We have been taking recommendations from our solicitor as to what we can say, how we can say it and when we can say it,” she said. “She does not want us to make a report until it is through the court. I am not to get into the middle of a court investigation. It is a learning curve for all public schools. We will get better.”
Board member Carol Schindler said, “The main thing as a parent is to know the school is safe and the kids are safe. I really think that is all we want to hear.
Student representative Brynn Afton said, “In the mornings sometimes the metal detectors aren’t the best way to start the school day, but as we go through (police officer) Brittany is always standing there, saying hi to all the students that go by. It’s just nice to know that they are there to protect us, but that they are also trying to have a relationship with us kids.”
“It’s great that our system works, but it’s awesome that the kids spoke up, because kids usually don’t do that,” Ortz said. “It’s a scary situation. To me this is as real as it gets without it happening. The kids that spoke up, that’s awesome.”
Board member Kerith Strano Taylor said she wanted to “recognize all the effort that our staff, our police, our courts, our probation department and our officers have invested in securing our district. There was concern, it was reported, our police investigated it, the kids were adjudicated by our court — it worked. There is no use having all these systems if we don’t acknowledge they work when they work. I know that everyone involved in this mix said, ‘What can we do better?’ Sometimes we get lost in the fear of what could happen and we forget to take a moment and realize that we have lots of committed people in our community and in our schools that want to make sure our kids are safe.”