By LIBBY CLUETT
PALO PINTO COUNTY – As funerals begin for 20 first-grade students and six school employees of Sandy Hook Elementary School, so many questions weigh in the minds of Americans, such as “why?” and how do we protect a community’s youngest, most vulnerable children.
Shortly after Friday’s massacre in Newtown, Conn., Gov. Rick Perry requested that Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams direct Texas school districts to review their emergency operation plans to ensure all schools are prepared to respond to such potential threats.
“The horrific event that transpired at Sandy Hook Elementary … is as profoundly disturbing as it is impossible to fully understand,” Gov. Perry stated in a press release.
“It is essential that we ensure all Texas schools are equipped and ready to carry out a strategic plan to secure the safety of students and staff in the event of a threat such as the one that occurred today,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families impacted by today’s tragedy, while our focus here is on doing everything within our power to protect the safety of Texas children whose parents have entrusted them to the care of our public schools.”
Passed in 2005, Senate Bill 11 requires school districts and public junior colleges to adopt and implement a multi-hazard emergency operations plan that includes district employee training and mandatory school drills to prepare students and employees for responding to an emergency.
To help assuage concerns about children’s safety, Perrin-Whitt Consolidated ISD Superintendent John Kuhn wrote parents a letter, in which he said, “Please be assured that the PWCISD faculty has no higher priority than the safety of our students and staff.”
He added that PWCISD has a crisis-management plan in place that is updated regularly “and that administration has closely reviewed in the past few days.”