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Estacada schools review security procedures

That horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 26 people dead, has prompted schools across the country to examine their safety and emergency procedures, including those right here in Estacada.

Hours after the news of the shooting became public, Estacada School District Superintendent Howard Fetz sent out an e-mail memo addressed to the community and staff members.

“The recent brutal and inhumane attacks and resulting fatalities and injuries are mind-numbing reminders of the vulnerabilities presented to schools and society in general in the 21st century,” Fetz wrote. “These events have caused the Estacada School District to examine and refine the district’s current safeguards as we maximize our attempts to ensure the safe and humane learning environments that our schools provide for our students and staff.”

Fetz went on to say the district is asking school principals and other supervisors to review their safety and lockdown procedures “and to refine them as needed.”

The district also is asking the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office to provide “multiple evaluations of our safeguards,” Fetz wrote.

In his memo, Fetz stated that the district is also asking the sheriff’s office to provide training for students and staff in perfecting those procedures.

“We hope that you will also notify the principal of your students’ school if you or your children become concerned or suspicious of possible threats to school and/or community safety. There is no higher priority for us than the safety of our students and staff,” Fetz wrote. “Thanks for serving with us in a team effort to enhance learning in a safe educational environment.”

Budget cuts within the Estacada School District required that the district eliminate funding for its campus resource officer.

Today, the one Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office deputy patrolling Estacada at all times also is responsible for responding to any incident at the high school.

That response time, however, can vary greatly because the city doesn’t have its own police force.

But on the rare occasion the high school has called the police for a serious matter, Assistant Principal Gary Lewis said the response time has always been fast.

“Could I sit here today and say we’re 100 percent safe? Probably not,” Lewis said. “We try to do everything we possibly can to make sure our kids are safe. Short of the school resource officer, we’re in about as good of shape as we could be.

“We take security very seriously, but I don’t know if you can ever do enough.”




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