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Franklin Regional School Board praises selflessness, heroism

| Monday, April 28, 2014, 11:03 p.m.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Franklin Regional School District Superintendent Dr. Gennaro Piraino looks out at the audience as he reads a statement regarding the April 9 stabbings during the school board's first meeting since the attacks on Monday, April 28, 2014, in Heritage Elementary School in Murrysville.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Dr. Larry Borland, president of the Franklin Regional School District School Board, reads his statement regarding the April 9 stabbings during the school board's first meeting since the attacks on Monday, April 28, 2014 at Heritage Elementary School in Murrysville.

The district's emergency action plan may have “helped minimize the number, and perhaps the severity, of those injured” in a mass stabbing at Franklin Regional Senior High School this month, said board President Dr. Larry Borland.

“Triage and treatment were top notch,” Borland said while reading a joint statement from the school district's board of directors on Monday night.

The board met in a public session on Monday for the first time since sophomore Alex Hribal, 16, brought two 8-inch knives to school on April 9 and went on a stabbing rampage, injuring 20 students and a security guard.

Police said they found a handwritten letter in Hribal's school locker that outlined his intent to injure classmates. He is charged as an adult with 21 counts each of attempted homicide and aggravated assault and one count of possession of a weapon on school property.

Two students remain patients in Forbes Regional Hospital — Connor Warwick, 16, and Greg Keener, 15, who are both in fair condition. Two other students were released last week after two-week hospital stays.

Members of the board “thank God that all the injured have survived,” Borland said.

He called the response of students, staff and emergency officials “extraordinary.”

“Heroic actions abounded,” he said.

Superintendent Gennaro Piraino said the district has received support and generosity on the local, regional and national level.

“The strong support has boosted the spirit, resolve and healing of our school community,” Piraino said while reading a statement at the start of the meeting. “We recognize that we are only at the beginning of the healing process. We still have many hurdles to face.”

No one in attendance chose to speak during a time allotted for public comment.

After the statements were read by Borland and Piraino, the board continued with its regular meeting, which included hearing from the high school's robotics team and a visit from the team's creation, a robot named Panzer.

Piraino said that students, staff and emergency responders showed “kindness, compassion, courage and altruism” in the face of violence and crisis.

“For these numerous individual and collective selfless and heroic actions, I personally will be forever grateful and remain humbled,” he said.

The stabbing and emergency response will be “thoroughly examined” to plan for future needs, in areas such as prevention, security measures and mental health protocols, Borland said.

The board and administrators have met regularly since April 9, Borland said. Two days after the stabbing, administrators were instructed to go home “in order to obtain long overdue rest, both physically and psychologically,” he said.

Hribal is being held at the Regional Youth Services Center. A May 9 preliminary hearing is set.

He was expected to appear in court on Wednesday, but defense attorney Pat Thomassey sought the delay when prosecutors on Friday added multiple charges of attempted murder.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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