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Norwin School District officials reassure parents after shooting

| Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, 10:25 p.m.

Norwin School District officials are reassuring parents in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, Conn.

The Dec. 14 shooting at the school claimed the lives of 26 people — including 20 children — and left parents, students and school administrators across the nation taking a second look at school safety.

Kris Laukus, president of the Hahntown Elementary Parent Teacher Association, said even after the shooting, she has never worried about student safety.

School officials have taken several safety precautions, Laukus said.

“Safety has crossed my mind, but I feel safe at Norwin,” she said. “Our schools are locked, visitors have to buzz the secretary to get in, and they're always updating and looking at safety policies.

“Norwin administrators are doing everything they can to make sure our schools are safe.”

After the shooting, Norwin officials met with members of the North Huntingdon Township police department and township emergency-management coordinator Gene Komondor to discuss and review safety and security issues, according to Superintendent William Kerr.

District officials also train all teachers and support staff procedures to deal with emergencies, Kerr said.

“Despite the recent acts of violence across the country, we still believe that one of the safest places is a school,” Kerr said. “There may be some questioning that, but the truth is, our schools have implemented procedures to lock down (during the day), buzz in visitors and ask for identification, if warranted.

North Huntingdon police Chief Andrew Lisiecki declined to discuss the school district's safety and security plans in detail but said the department is taking a proactive role in Norwin's schools.

Aside from having security and cameras at the door of each district building, Lisiecki said, officers meet with school officials and the Norwin Safe Schools Committee on a regular basis to review emergency procedures.

Officers also patrol the school grounds and walk through the buildings each day, and officers undergo regular training sessions in the buildings, Lisiecki said.

“The entire school district has a good plan in effect and always make sure to notify us if they hear or see anything suspicious,” Lisiecki said.

Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Kerr said, administrators have received “a handful of emails and phone calls” from concerned parents and guardians.

Administrators reassured each caller that the district is prepared to deal with an emergency situation.

“We're here for one reason, and that's to make sure we protect our children,” Kerr said.

“Every employee in the district is considered a first responder, and in the event of an emergency, each one will do whatever is necessary to protect our children.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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