ShareThis Page

Safety plan for schools examined

| Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 9:31 p.m.

Baldwin-Whitehall School District is tweaking safety plans for its five schools, though that won't include arming teachers, Superintendent Randal Lutz said.

One month after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut school, Lutz updated the Baldwin-Whitehall School Board about safety procedures and plans to make them better.

“Right now, everyone is talking about it,” Lutz said. “Schools are an open, fluid place. How do we react without overreacting?”

Baldwin-Whitehall administrators began looking at safety and emergency procedures in July, when Lutz became superintendent, he said. Each school has a crisis response plan and administrators collaborate with Baldwin Borough and Whitehall police.

The district has a contract with Allied Security Group to place unarmed guards in each building and officials are evaluating that agreement to determine whether the district is getting the most for its money.

Lutz said he wants to further research the issue of arming guards in schools but is firmly against arming teachers.

“Teachers are educators,” he said. “People are so desperate for a solution, they'll try anything.”

Schools are a community resource with sometimes more than a dozen activities happening on any given day, Lutz said. The goal is to be proactive with safety without deterring people from attending school activities.

Lutz said he is thinking about bringing in an outside consultant to review the district's safety plans.

Todd Plunkett, a Baldwin Borough resident and assistant chief at Baldwin EMS, told the school board that he met with district officials in 2009 to discuss safety issues in the buildings and left without assurance that they would meet his concerns.

“I left that meeting unsatisfied,” Plunkett said. “I'm really sad that I was proven correct (about school shootings) ... The only thing I am glad about is that it wasn't here.”

Plunkett thinks the district needs to ensure better response from faculty and staff when they see a stranger in buildings. They should question strangers, he said.

“If you look like you belong and act like you belong, then I'm not going to be challenged,” Plunkett said.

Board member Larry Pantuso said he would like more drills in schools that would emphasize how to respond to incidents such as a school shooter.

“When you drill it, you find problems that you didn't know you had,” Pantuso said.

Board president Nancy Sciulli DiNardo said she appreciated Plunkett bringing his concerns to administrators and encouraged him to continue to do so.

“If you see things like that, you're obligated to speak up. Your opinion is valued,” Sciulli DiNardo said. “Students' safety is paramount.”

Laura Van Wert is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5814 or at

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.