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Open Letter to Dr. Jackson

by Jack Harper
December 18, 2012

Dear Dr. Jackson, 

We have three children at Placentino Elementary.  Everyone I know says great things about the administration and the teachers at our extraordinary school.  They have created a loving learning environment which make our children and other students anxious to be there every single day.

I heard exactly the same comments about Sandy Hook Elementary this weekend when I spoke with residents of now shattered Newtown, Connecticut. It was one of the most difficult assignments of my long career at WCVB TV.
 
Each time I visit Placentino I am concerned about the open access to the building which bascially allows anyone to walk in at any time.  Most schools I visit in other communities keep doors locked and require the " buzzing in " of any visitors.
 
I know many educators favor open doors which provide a sense of freedom, but I believe today's changing world requires a change in security policies.
 
This does not mean an armed camp or metal detectors which many Boston schools now use.   Instead we should do what every police department in America advises its citizens to do at home...that is LOCK THE DOORS.   Obviously, this isn't the answer to all issues, but it could provide some precious time during a crisis.
 
It seems strange to me that access to virtually every other public and many private buildings is restricted or monitored, but our schools are left unprotected.
 
I hope you and others involved in the Holliston School system will consider enhancing security at all our schools.
 
In Newtown Sunday night, the President asked if we are doing all we can to protect our children, then conceded we are not. As a Holliston parent I have to agree.  We also could be doing more.
 
Thanks for the time and please let me know if meetings are planned to discuss this important issue.
 
Good health,
 
Jack and Leslie Harper

 

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Comments (58)

I urge everyone who has posted a comment here to attend, and urge othes to attend, the Town Meeting in May and vote for an override if that is what is necessary to provide the necessary funds in the school budget to undertake what is required to educate our children and keep them safe.

- Just one m ore concerned parent and resident | 1/27/15 4:41 PM

I'm sorry I'm late to the party commenting on this, but I have been wanting tovweigh in on this since the announcement came out that Placentino is budgeting for a buzzer system. A few months ago my first grader told me two of her classmates were locked out of the building during recess. They didn't know that only the front door was unlocked so they ran from door to door trying to get in until a preschool teacher heard them and let them in. Not only am I concerned that the kids got locked out and didn't know what to do, it also made me wonder what happens if a shooter approaches the playground at recess and open fires? Are the kids stuck outside unable to get to safety because of locked doors? I'm wondering if this needs to be thought out a little more.

- First Grade Parent | 1/21/13 9:16 PM

No anger towards Dr. Jackson here. An no need to wait for the expert reports. This is simple risk management and common sense. The more unmanaged access to schools, the more opportunity for problems. By the way, I am guessing there were alot of experts who signed off on procedures at the state crime lab and framingham compounding center.

- Better Safe | 12/20/12 7:35 AM

This anger towards Dr. Jackson is misguided and inappropriate. I currently have children at each school in Holliston and I have had many correspondences over the years with Dr. Jackson. He is not a perfect superintendent (you need to fix your middle school adm.), however I have never, for one second, doubted that Dr. Jackson had my kids safety and security as his highest priority. Knee-jerk reactions to tragedies is not the way to responsibly run an organization. If after the expert authorities study the actions of last Friday and make recommendations on what schools can do to increase safety, I guarantee you Holliston will implement them. Everyone take a deep breath. We're all in a state of shock…that's not the best time to make decisions. I, for one, will not care one iota what's under the Christmas tree Tuesday morning, rather I'll be unbelievably thankful that my three healthy children will be there with me. Happy Holidays Holliston.

- John | 12/20/12 6:44 AM

I think the more people that spread the word that Dr. Jackson is "waiting till the dust settles" the more can be vocal with this issue. Maybe we should flood his office, school comm. meetings, the town hall.. He has to take this issue to the top of his list, and he must address it now. . Dr Jackson please respond to this out cry in your town... LOCK THE DOORS, then decide what you are going to do...your silence is not golden on this matter.. act now!

- ben | 12/20/12 4:51 AM

I am absolutley in favor of the locked doors/buzzer system. As one person commented much earlier on, it doesn't have to be a mass murderer trying to get into the schools, think about pedophiles/kidnappings, as previous poster said, we can't put anything past anyone now a days. Lock the damn doors and get over how much it will cost! I can tell you Dr. Jackson sees dollar signs only. He does not have the children's best interest at heart. A former classmate of my son moved in March, just over holliston town line to Hopkinton and Jackson would not allow their kindergarten son to remain in Holliston until the end of June! His reason? Her son was in the autism program and would cost too much to keep him on an extra 8 weeks! (all she was asking was for him to remain consistent til end of school year! even teachers were up in arms.) I could go on and on about that topic, but I won't. Smarten up Dr. Jackson, you have a lot of parents who dislike you in town!

- Placentino Parent | 12/19/12 7:02 PM

Thank you to the Harper's for initiating this discussion in a public format. I am appalled by Dr. Jackson's response or lack thereof. There is no question that the doors should be immediately locked until the school board and community can meet to develop a more permanent solution. Other local school districts are already evaluating their school safety plans and are installing buzzer systems and security cameras in their schools over the winter break. Why is Holliston not doing this? Dr. Jackson, it is time to take the initiative and respond to parents concerns. Lock the doors.

- Concerned parents | 12/19/12 6:57 PM

I am glad someone finally brought up the mental health issue. That is the underlying issue of most of these school and public place shootings. We had an incident at the high school recently where a high school student brought an airsoft gun (they look like real guns) to the school premises and threatened his girlfriend. I realize it was not a real gun, but it could have easily been real. It frightened the many students who witnesse this incident. My concern now is that this student has some mental health issues and he might be coming back to the school. Unless they are going to watch this boy like a hawk I feel very uncomfortable knowing that he will be in the school again. I would expect the school to let us know their plans in this matter.

- Very Concerned Parent | 12/19/12 6:20 PM

Locking our schools' doors should be a no brainer. Placentino, Miller, Adams and the High School. End of discussion. Mr. Jackson, really? Listen to the community. Just get it done and stop writing letters to parents with empty words. What about access to mental health services? No one said a word about that. This is a huge problem on so many different levels. We all as a nation need to pay more attention to our children and their emotional needs.

- Rachel Kagno | 12/19/12 5:27 PM

I am in favor of locking the doors in our schools. When I was teaching we were told to lock our pocketbooks and valuables up because there had been people targeting schools to rob from empty classrooms. By locking the doors we will be teaching the children an important lesson. Lock your car, look before crossing the street, buckle your seat belt etc..we want the children to learn to use good common sense when it comes to living in our society. There are so many little things that we do to protect our children. They learn from us and locking the doors is just an obvious precaution. Other schools in surrounding towns are using locking and id badge procedures which are common in most businesses.

- retired Miller Placentino teacher | 12/19/12 4:48 PM

concerned teacher... AMEN!

- concerned | 12/19/12 4:23 PM

As a teacher, a LOCKED door will slow down anyone. A buzzer system even more. It won't prevent someone with a weapon, but it will buy us ALL time. Aren't the kids and the staff worth that much?

- Concerned teacher | 12/19/12 3:50 PM

Being fairly new to the area I have to say this is the first district we have lived in that has not either had locked doors or had a direct entrance into the office. Although a locked door did not stop the evil crime in Newtown it alerted someone on initial entry and emergency personell were contacted sooner. The Monday after this crime I walked into the high school to drop off my daughter lunch. I walked into the office and there was not one staff member in site at 10:30am. We all lock our doors at home even though we know someone could break a window why aren't we locking the doors of our schools?

- Another Concerned Mother | 12/19/12 2:55 PM

this is to "defending dr jackson" I ask you. . if we had waited till the dust settled on 9/11 how many more attacks would we have been under? It was immediate the approach our country took,, so lets just lock the doors now and then approach the other solutions when they become apparent.. it takes so little to be safe, it takes so little to not address this issue... I for one am happy to be buzzed in a building, take my shoes off at the airport to insure my safety as well as others. .People get your heads out of the sand, these are the times we are living in.. protect our most precious....

- concerned | 12/19/12 2:31 PM

Thank you to the Harper's for writing this letter. I totally agree that security should be increased. I hate to think how many more innocent lives would've been lost if the doors had been unlocked. Certainly as all the comments show, it is a topic that needs to be addressed.

- Patty MacLeod | 12/19/12 2:28 PM

This is a follow-up post to my earlier one. People who don't want a simple, cheap lock/buzzer system puzzle me. Your argument is that the Sandy Hook shooter just shot through the door anyway so it doesn't matter? First of all, how about having locks/buzzers just for basic safety like almost every business and private pre-school have? Should an unarmed person with even less serious malicious intent be allowed such easy access to our schools? I own a business and can tell you that I couldn't even get insurance if I didn't have a lock/buzzer on my business door. Second, you can install cheap security doors that can't easily be overcome by firing gunshots into them. Third, emergency responders can get through such systems when needed with no delay assuming appropriate planning/training have been done. Finally, I wholeheartedly agree that we shouldn't go into a hyperactive state where we trade away our freedom for hopes of increased safety. Most of us are just asking for some simple, basic, and almost-universally accepted safety precautions. For Pete's sake, this state mandates that our kids have to be in booster seats almost until they're teenagers, yet we can't even ask that the darn schools lock the doors? Please, give me a break.

- Brendan O'Leary | 12/19/12 1:58 PM

Thank you to the Harper's for starting this discussion. I have tried to read all the comments so as not to reiterate the many points. Holliston and its school system has always been considered progressive. We offer Montessori, French Immersion, etc. I am amazed at how behind we are in relation to this subject. With many of the surrounding communities already having locked doors, I feel like Holliston could be a target. If someone wanted to cause the most damage, would they not go to a place with the least security? True, the chances of getting struck by lightning may be higher than a mass shooting, but when I hear thunder, I get my children out of the water. Newtown was our thunder, and it is time to get out of the water. Locks should be installed immediately.

- Concerned Hollistonian | 12/19/12 1:35 PM

I wholeheartedly agree with the Harpers' letter and have often thought the same as I am able to walk right in to Placentino, sometimes without the front office even noticing. We MUST have some kind of security, whether you believe it may stop a mass murderer or not. Offices and residences have keypads and security systems, why shouldn't our schools? Milford and other surrounding towns had a police presence at school on Monday, and that may not be a long term good use of town resources, but at least it was a show of response to what happened in CT. Somtimes a sense of security if what parents want in such an unsettling time. We have to send our children to school everyday, its the law, and we should have every confidence that our children will be taken care of while they are there. It seems like a no-brainer to start with readdressing security within all of the school buildings.

- Yet another concerned parent | 12/19/12 1:29 PM

OK OK OK, we can all get overexcited and cll for Fort Knox style schools all we want, but I will agree with Dr. Jackson. The "dust settles" didn't mean the lives of the people who were lost, but it refers to the details of the crime perpetrated in Newtown. We cannot and should not make changes to security procedures until we truly know what hppened in Newtown IN DETAIL, so that we can address any issues that we identify. I also agree with someone else here who wrote that we shouldn't turn our schools into armed fortresses. What's next, TSA at the entrance to each school building to do a pat-down search each time we enter or leave?

- Defending Dr Jackson | 12/19/12 1:25 PM

Most of us are parents that seem to be posting but I wonder how the teachers and staff feel. I am grateful that I have had the pleasure of having superb teachers for my son but I feel that the school department is putting a very large burden on the them- Keep your 20 plus students safe without any tools or training. They are teachers, to educate our children, not to protect them from a gunman. We need to provide as much safety to our kids, our teachers and school staff as we possibly can. Many posts suggest that we will lose our freedom to locked doors or card access but I would rather lose that freedom and still be able to hug our sons and daughters and not have to cry at their gravestones.

- Heather DeLuca | 12/19/12 12:29 PM

I must respectfully disagree with those who say we need buzzers or locked doors. First of all, Sandy Hook elementary had locked doors and it didn't prevent the mass shootings. Second, a meta analysis conducted by RAND showed that these types of safety measures make students feel psychologically unsafe.

- mudville resident | 12/19/12 12:15 PM

While I appreciate the concern -- my daugther went to Placentino and is now at the Miller School -- I think we're all forgetting that the Sandy Hook Elementary School had a buzzer system, a video security system and a whole set of procedures to deal with such a crisis. The perpetrator shot his way into the building. Short of putting the kids in the MEMA bunker in Framingham, I'm not sure how you're supposed to combat that. Armed security is the answer, but it's one that not many people are going to want to life with.

- Craig Fitzgerald | 12/19/12 11:58 AM

I fully respect the argument being had and am happy to live in a community where this type of healthy debate can be had. I cannot say that I am either for or against the installation of locks. It seems to me that the only real result of the installation will be that parents will feel better, or feel a little better. Is that enough to justify the installation? If so, then why wait? However while we are all fixed on the locking of the doors, less than two miles from the school there is a new outdoor handgun range that has been installed without public comment, permitting, or discussion. If we want to have a real discussion about safety, it might do us well to look at the broader picture. Just a thought.

- Big picture | 12/19/12 11:42 AM

I agree whole hardily with this article. Last Friday, the day of the tragic Sandy Hook shooting, I was able to access Placentino and walk half way down the 1st grade corridor, before realizing I had not signed in. As most parents, I was anxious to see my son, and wasn't thinking clearly about the proper procedures. I returned to the main office to formally sign in, not because someone asked me to or because I was chased down the hall.... I returned because I knew it was required. If I was able to gain access that easily then what is preventing someone of harm doing the very same thing. I would feel much better knowing those doors are locked at all times. I also think each individual class should have a secure lock in the event of a crisis.

- Holliston Mom | 12/19/12 11:21 AM

The "dust" that Dr Jackson is referring to are human beings that lost their lives just doing what most of do during the day. . going to school, teaching, daily life... to refer to these people that lost their lives in such a tragic way is deplorable... Dr Jackson take heed now and do something pro-active before more "dust has to settle" in your world!!!

- Pearl | 12/19/12 11:09 AM

After reading the article and all the comments from Holliston parents, taxpayers and general public one thing is for sure;If Dr. Jackson doesn't come up with some way to fix this he may be looking for another job. The majority speaks. It's sad that he is being singled out, but he needs to make this happen. After all, that's a responsibility of his position and why his salary reflects that!

- Fix the Doors | 12/19/12 10:41 AM

Holliston schools have reduced front end staff, while hiring more administrators and giving raises to the top tier. People in nice secure offices will "wait for the dust to settle" in the halls, and produce comprehensive studies to make the surface look good. It's the people in the classrooms and out front who should be supported and made secure. We pass overrides for technology improvements that quickly become obsolete. Why can't we add security technology and perhaps additional hands-on staff, which could set up an environment of safety that is real, and not just self-satisfied posturing.

- In favor of locking the doors | 12/19/12 10:05 AM

The VAST majority of offices where many of us work have locked doors, keycard access, etc. The fact that we don't have such simple (and relatively inexpensive) safeguards for our schools is totally ridiculous. I think we should have a town meeting where Dr. Jackson has to face all the parents and explain his outrageous position.

- Brendan O'Leary | 12/19/12 9:50 AM

The letter by Jack and Leslie is well written and I agree with much of what has been said throughout these posts. It is unsettling that the doors to Placentino are so easily accesssible and open right into the first grade hallway. However, it is true that the safest hours of our children's day are the hours they are in school. As we have seen in recent years, it is not safe in schools, movie theaters, or malls. We do not live in a perfect world, in fact we live in a very broken one. We do not provide the right mental health care for those that need it (I work in the field and will tell you this is true from first hand knowledge). Often times, the people that need the help, don't get it or don't want it. We will never be able to stop all evil events and if an evil person wants to do harm, they will find a way to do it. As with Newtown, their doors were locked. Evil broke in. Perhaps the locked doors did save lives...we may never know. My concern for our unlocked doors are similar to what Ms. Smith noted. We, as parents are able to access the building too easily, which means that it is easy for anyone. I also agree with those that feel the at the superintendents remarks were callous. The dust on this should never settle. We should never forget how this feels. Having said all of that, I work for a school district that has locked doors. Front office staff are responsible for buzzing people in. 9 out of 10 times, you get "buzzed" in without ever identifying yourself. For the locked doors to be effective, the staff needs to be attentive to the procedures and not become complacent.

- Grew up here...came back to raise my own kids here | 12/19/12 8:43 AM

shame on you Dr Jackson.. waiting until the "dust settles" is not an answer for our schools...what a callous statement.. 20 some people were KILLED, and to say when the "dust settles" makes me so sad for his insensitivity to this matter.Take action now rather than wait, lock the doors and maybe, maybe just one person with bad intentions will be detered..

- concerned | 12/19/12 7:54 AM

Locked doors may help, but that didn't stop the tragedy from happening. I am thinking it's time to have an under-cover armed guard in every school. It would be nice knowing that there was someone there that could really take on a gunman in the proper manner. It's sad to think this is our reality, but it is.

- Holliston mother | 12/19/12 7:38 AM

What are we waiting for??? It is disturbing to me that the Superintendant has done nothing to make this community feel secure in their environment in the wake of this tragedy. I don't need an automated reply that everyone else got to tell me there are drills that have been in place. I want to know what additional steps you are going to take. I agree with all the parents/former employees who have commented on how easy it is to access the school, all we are missing is a big sign on the front doors that says "Come on In"! Let's not not do anything because it is inconvenient. Security/safety of our children and the wonderful Holliston Public School staff should be our #1 concern. I can't say that I feel that it ever has been. Your chance to prove me wrong is slowly slipping away...

- Concerned Parent | 12/19/12 6:41 AM

Shame on anyone that feels my sons life and that of his school mates is not worth locking the doors to our schools. Ever since his first day of Kindergarten I have felt that the doors should be locked and thought that past school shooting tragedies would have opened the school departments eyes but sadly I was wrong. No one is naive in thinking that it will 100% prevent a bad situation from happening but if it gives 1 child an extra 5 seconds to hide or to run then it is worth it. If trying to be cautious is over reacting then could you please answer the following questions: ?Why do we not let our children run with scissors? ?Why do we wear seat belts in the car? ?Why do we take our shoes off at the airport? ?Why do we get colonoscopies? ?Why do we surround our president with so many secret service? The answer to all of these questions is they won't prevent the tragedies we would like to prevent but aid in the reduction of such horrible instances. We, as a school community spend many dollars revamping the food which is served in our cafeterias which only benefits the children that do purchase food for lunch but refuse to lock the doors at a zero cost that benefits all students. As a high school student in the early 1990s, my high school decided to make condoms available due to the outbreak of AIDS. Would it prevent the spread of AIDS in all cases- no, but if it saved 1 person from contracting the disease it was worth it. Some may have seen it as over reacting because not every student was sexual active and not everyone was a carrier of the disease but I applaud them for being proactive and caring enough about our student body to adapt to the changing world in which we live. I only hope that one day every current Holliston student will look back and feel that yes my parents and my community tried their best to give me every opportunity to live a rich and successful life. We, the parents of these children beg that you take this small zero cost step in protecting our most priceless and cherished sons and daughters.

- Heather DeLuca | 12/19/12 6:23 AM

It doesn't make sense to me that the schools should do nothing at all except set up "a comprehensive review." When there was a series of crimes in our neighborhood, I was told the best protection would be "incremental barriers" - a fence, good lighting, an alarm, good locks, a big barking dog. Each additional measure would not stop a criminal by itself, but altogether they would make our place less and less accessible, and thus more likely to be passed by for an easier target. Recently we have been warned repeatedly to lock our cars because of thefts that are occurring in town. Children are accustomed to having their houses locked. We think of these actions as common-sense careful, not fearful. There have been more incidents since Newtown. Even a few small steps toward enhanced security could make a difference.

- Susan | 12/19/12 5:56 AM

Thank you Harpers for you article! We too are extremely concerned and want to know when we will see change. I noticed Mr. Jackson's response to your email an it appears to be the same canned response I received on Monday regarding what they are doing. I have no doubt they have response plans in place, but it's the prevention plans that need to change and are needed today. Responding to a horrific event like last week is too late. If locking a door can save even one life then isn't that enough. Like most of you I don't want to teach my children to live in fear, but the reality is we live in a society where crazy and unthinkable things happen and we need to be proactive and safeguard our schools. So if I have to be buzzed into a school or provide an ID to ensure that my children will be safe then I will do it. My children are far too precious to me.

- Donna Goyette | 12/19/12 5:47 AM

I ask you Dr Jackson, is your response to this tragedy the right wording? "wait until the dust settles" how insensitive, how horrible and to WAIT to be proactive is needless. Please act now, if even just to lock the doors, make all employees wear their I.D. badges and make all aware of their surroundings each and every day. .

- sally | 12/19/12 5:36 AM

Thank you to the Harpers for starting this conversation in our town. My first reaction to the security of schools in Holliston was that we should not let ourselves live in fear. That our schools are still the safest places our children can be. However, the more I think about those open doors at the schools, the more I realize that they should be locked. The security system in place in Newtown did not prevent this act of evil. However, did the locked doors that the gunman had to shoot through slow him down enough to prevent even further destruction? We will never know, but it is a measure that certainly seems worth taking, just in case. There is, without question, further discussion that needs to go on, but at this point I do not see a valid argument for unlocked schools in our town.

- Barbara Daly | 12/19/12 3:19 AM

Locking the doors on our schools may be the right answer. However, right now there's too much emotion involved; doing something for the sake of doing something isn't going to help. I agree that it makes sense to wait out the investigation and use it as input to objectively reassess our schools' security plans.

- Mark | 12/18/12 9:11 PM

I agree with the Harpers letter.... Holliston should be proactive in safety issues instead of reactive. I do not want to sucumb to fear but I want to be realistic about what needs to be done in the best interest of the students safety. When time has passed from this awful tragedy, I hope we can say we have implemented the best plan to keep our school population safe. This includes plans for physical safety ( locking doors, passcards, ) and response training ( more drills) up to date. These plans will not solve every incident but it may help keep our schools safe and I think that's enough of a reason...

- Rebecca Q | 12/18/12 7:46 PM

I am a former teacher at Placentino school. I have always been concerned with the doors at the front that have open access. Anyone (and I've seen people try) can walk right in and down the first grade hallway and any hallway for that matter. I 100% agree with the Harpers. While yes, the gunman did shoot through the locked door in Newtown, we need to also protect from other types of monsters that may not bring a gun, such as someone with another motive. We're not just protecting against mass murderers but pedophiles/or kidnappers...seriously, we can't put anything past anyone anymore. Anything can happen anywhere and locking the doors is something that must be done. There should not even be a question about this. I find it hard to believe the superintendent's comment, "wait until the dust settles in Newtown." Why? That's a ludicrous statement. I disagree with his response to the Harpers. Let's hope Holliston does the right thing. and soon.

- Former Placentino Teacher | 12/18/12 7:30 PM

I agree with the Harper's,so lets at least start with locked doors and buzzers. I am in favor of metal detectors. It truely breaks my heart writing this,we need to be prepared,strong and work together. The Gagnon Family

- John E.Gagnon | 12/18/12 7:05 PM

I am 100% in favor of locked doors. I agree with everything the Harper's have written...... I have on numerous occasions entered placentino and not "signed in". Let me know how I can be involved in the process of making changes. Thank you ~ Gaynor Greenberg

- Gaynor Greenberg | 12/18/12 6:09 PM

Thank you as well for writing this letter. I cannot believe how easy it is to walk into Placentino and Miller. Today I dropped off our class gift at Placentino. I was an unexpected visitor, walked right in and as I did I got a sick feeling in my stomach when I saw the doors to the first grade hallway completely opened. Students with classrooms in this corridor were also visible to me - some were putting things in their cubbies and some were walking down the hall. All this visible to me from our schools unlocked front entrance. I more than likely could have walked directly to my child's classroom to drop the gifts off - don't think anyone would have even noticed. Completely unacceptable - something has to be implemented. As I thought about how easy this would have been it occurred to me that most corporations around the country have protection for their employees, security personnel checking badges and employees themselves needs to swipe cards in order to get through doors - this is consistent even when walking from department to department. Our doors should be locked at all times; unexpected visitors as I was today should be required to call the school prior to entering the building. All staff and those that volunteer their time should be given the same kind of cards that employers have their employees carry to enter their buildings. No one should be able to get through the ALL/ANY doors unless they have authorized access or are expected on school premises. A tax increase I am sure would be required for such security measure but to me that is one tax increase I would be happy to pay.

- Stefanie Smith | 12/18/12 6:01 PM

I agree with the Harper's on the need for added security in the schools. They stated it so well. Our school have always been to open to anyone. It is so easy to walk by the office without being noticed. It is like the honor system - there is a small sign on the door that says to check in at the office. I would not let someone walk into my house and walk around without greeting them at the door. My surprise was that nothing seems to have changed from last week to this at our schools. What is to think about? Many area towns already have locks and have systems in place.

- former Holliston teacher | 12/18/12 5:05 PM

Thank you Jack for writing this letter. I share your concerns! At the beginning of the school year, I ran the bus buddy program. The office did not check ID's, or names when giving out the bus buddy badges. So I do not believe that the office is as secure as it should be. How does writing my name on a piece of paper ensure my child's security? I am quite concerned about security at Placentino.

- Stacey Raffi | 12/18/12 4:45 PM

Well... it seems like there are a number of ways to go with things. Butlet me tell you a personal story, from about 10 years ago. My daughter was a student at Miller School, and I had to bring her some clean clothes after she landed in a puddle. I walked into the school and straight to her classroom, not knowing the procedures for checkin at the office. Mr. Keim managed to intercept me before I ever got to the classroom, and I was quite embarrassed not to know the procedures. But it shows that the office staff IS ON TOP OF IT ALL, they know who is coming and going, and they can make sure to see who is coming and going. I do think that there should be more practice of the lockdown procedures, so that both students and staff is practiced and can do it without hesitating. Iyou talk to anyone in the military, repetition and drills of emergency procedures allows them to act quickly when the emergency DOES happen. Locking the buildings at all times just makes it feel like we as parents are not welcome there. And the High School.... it would be impossible to sre a school which has an open campus. Students come and go all day long, and the door woul be constantly buzzed open.

- My kids are grown now | 12/18/12 2:20 PM

I agree with Concerned and Ed. Let's not let a horrific act of evil change our daily lives. Nobody will ever forget what happened and of course everyone wants our loved ones everywhere to be safe all the time, but the sad truth is we will never be truly safe from everything or everyone that has intentions such as this - Ed hit the nail on the head-they will find a way. Yes we can mitigate some risk, but at what cost and I don't mean financial? We need to enjoy everyday as a gift, not hiding and making our schools - a happy place - into prisons. We live an a wonderful community full of amazing people. Everyone is hurt by this tragic event and we all feel like we want to do something to prevent it. The most important thing we can do is love and raise our children properly and in my opinion this community does a damn fine job. I'm proud to live in Holliston and applaud the officials who keep us safe every day.

- JM Brown | 12/18/12 2:19 PM

The problem is even if schools are locked during the day to protect students, there is always easy access during events such as school plays, basketball games, dances and other functions. If someone must be "buzzed in" during the day what about at these events when anyone can just walk in to the building when there are hundreds of people attending and no security at all. If a person wants to commit evil why not just wait until one of these functions when they know they have open access. We all need to be prudent and respectful of one another, locking doors simply does not work. Think about this there is no security at these events...none. This is a horrific event that we are living through but let's not take away our rights to be free and thinks it it's a solution.

- Ed | 12/18/12 1:55 PM

As much as I wish this would work, it won't. It may make people feel better and more secure but the fact is that locking doors will not prevent a monster like this from doing what he did. If you visit other facilities that have implemented such measures, have you ever tried to test it? What is needed to get in? "I'm here to see xyz" "Ok, bzzz" Even with cameras or more active measures there is always a way. Weapons could easily be concealed. Not trying to be Debbie Downer, it's just the way it is. This was a horrible horrible tragedy but prevention starts with identifying the problem and stopping it before it happens. Yet again all the warning signs were there.

- Concerned | 12/18/12 1:42 PM

I am as concerned as the rest. But as a mother of a child who got locked out of the building during school hours, I think we should also put cameras on the buildings as well as buzzers so the office can see the doors. I had discussed this matter Many years ago when this happened, to no avail.

- Concerned holliston parent | 12/18/12 1:31 PM

I ask the question why? why wait until the "dust settles" in Newtown? be proactive now so you do not have to be a statistic on the nightly news.. Lock the doors! easy until you can come up with a more secure idea...

- ben | 12/18/12 1:13 PM

I am writing to both echo and applaud the open letter from my colleague--and Holliston neighbor--Jack Harper. Like Jack and Leslie, we also have children at the Placentino and Miller Schools. And like Jack, I am uneasy every time I am able to freely enter those buildings. I must add, I am equally uneasy (and saddened) that such new security concerns are now necessary. But our present reality is what it is. We have accepted the inconvenience of heightened security protocols at our airports; we cannot accept less at our schools. Like Jack, I am continually impressed by the dedication of those who staff our schools and for the positive environment they create there. Nor do I doubt that those professionals care any less deeply about security than education. But locking the doors seems like a wise, prudent and simple thing to do without delay. Yes, it may not be as simple as it sounds, and there may be additional infrastructure (buzzers, cameras, personnel) and costs involved. But it's hard to ignore the reality that it should be done; hard as well to ignore the number of neighboring towns that have already (and immediately) done it.

- Ted and Anne Marie Reinstein | 12/18/12 1:07 PM

As the parent of 3 Holliston school students, I resent being asked to relinquish tax dollars and freedoms to subsidize the ownership of assault weapons and large capacity magazines. Those who insist on such offensive weaponry should be taxed to secure against the threat they represent. The NRA has aggressively militarized too many aspects of our national life, they need to be stopped. A buzzer won't stop a nut with a weapon no reasonable person needs.

- tpartynitwit | 12/18/12 1:00 PM

As a former employee of the Holliston school system I totally agree with the Harpers.. In the past few years, since the "lockdown"system has been used, our school has only had 2 drills!and as they did work, there were many faults with them...Iam sure these matters will be addressed, but until then how safe are our students, teachers? I also know that any one can walk through the front door and into the school, the door to the main office is always closed and Iam sure the secretaries are not aware of each and every person walkiing in the door...Each and every school in Holliston should be locked, and have a key pad or buzz in system in place.PLEASE take heed with this recent tragedy and revamp our schools for the sake of all in them.

- Marg | 12/18/12 12:55 PM

As a parent with a child in each of the three Holliston schools. I respectfully disagree with Jack Harper's call for restricted access. Think of the hundreds of thousands of visits made to our schools over the years without incident ans ask yourself if you think we have a need for greater security. Your child is more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked in school. A buzzer system cannot deter a determined nut, but will be a dispiriting gesture to inchoate fear. The President's comments were an oblique reference to restricting weapons designed for combat rather than self-defense or hunting. That is the proper direction to direct your anxiety.

- tpartynitwit | 12/18/12 12:26 PM

Here is my response to Mr. Harper's email: Thank you for contacting me and expressing your concern. I heard that you dropped by my office this morning. I'm sorry that I was unavailable to see you in person. I can assure you that all of us are shaken by the events of last Friday and are seeking the same answers that we know our entire community is. While I can only imagine how difficult it was for you to be in Newtown this weekend, I'm sure that you understand how this tragedy reminded me of the responsibility that I bear as Superintendent for the safety of all of Holliston's schoolchildren. I can assure you that it is a responsibility that I do not take lightly. Each of our schools has a comprehensive safety and emergency response plan in place that has been developed and reviewed by state and local emergency management personnel. Once the dust settles in Newtown and we all get a complete picture of what really happened and what, if anything, could have been done to avoid that tragedy, we will review our plans and update them if necessary. The questions that you ask will be part of that comprehensive review. In the meantime, our efforts this week will focus on helping our school community (students, staff and families) deal with the psychological impact of this unspeakable loss. I welcome your questions and input as we process this tragedy together.

- Brad Jackson | 12/18/12 12:15 PM

Thank you for writing this! I agree with everything you said as do many others in town.

- Jen Golden | 12/18/12 11:55 AM

As an alumnus of HHS, I fully endorse Mr. Harper's concerns. At all four school buildings in town, the front doors are wide open. The main offices that one "must" go to before entering the schools have no sight path at (3 out of the 4 schools) to the front doors. This is a problem. Additionally, while the many side doors at the high school are locked through out the day, many are propped open by students to get in and out of the building. Think of the consequences a pebble in the door could have. We don't think about these things until tragedy happens elsewhere. But now the dialogue has started, let's find a solution. Don't get me wrong, we have a tremendous team of professionals working in our town attempting to protect us. However, it is now time to take a few steps back from the "law enforcement world" and look at the real world. Ask HPD: Are tasers, K9's, and highway studies more important than protecting the 2,800 students who we entrust the town to keep safe within the walls of our schools? Simple increased measures can make a world of difference and reassure confidence in the teachers, students, and parents of Holliston. The time to act is now.

- HHS Alum | 12/18/12 11:05 AM

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