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West Orange Times & Observer Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018 8 months ago

Students, parents suggest school safety improvements during meeting at Windermere High

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Following the recent school shooting in Parkland, a parent-led group requested a community meeting to discuss school safety.
by: Gabby Baquero News Editor

ORANGE COUNTY – The Windermere High School cafeteria become a place for lively discussion about school safety during a community meeting held Thursday, March 1.

About 100 people attended the meeting, which was spearheaded by Mothers Opposing Violence in Education. 

M.O.V.E, which formed after 17 people died Feb. 14 during a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is a group of mothers working together to call more attention to the issue of school safety and security.

The meeting opened with bells of silence in respect to each life lost in the Parkland shooting and was followed by an introduction and explanation of the meeting’s intent by Julie Sadlier, a mother of two school-age children and a community activist involved in M.O.V.E. 

“When we had the tragedy that happened in Parkland, it touched all of our hearts,” Sadlier said. “On Friday, we had multiple lockdowns within the area, and I watched as I was working, feeling helpless at the comments, concern and panic that parents had. I’m a strong believer that if you have a concern or a problem or answers, then you need to step up and be heard.”

Sadlier said the goal was to open a dialogue about school safety in Orange County and serve as a call to action for anyone who wishes to see state lawmakers pass legislation that would help provide more resources to boost school security.

Orange County Public Schools District Chief of Police Bryan Holmes and Orange County Sheriff’s Office Major Angelo Nieves both gave presentations detailing the preventive measures, programs and precautions their agencies engage in to keep schools safe.

During their presentation, Holmes said the district employs random weapon screenings rather than daily screenings because of time constraints.  

Meanwhile, Nieves emphasized his officers receive active-shooter training and that because of the increase in the number of threats and inappropriate social-media posts, his agency is working with state legislators on a bill to ensure threats are addressed properly.

“I want to reiterate we will make arrests, have done so and will exhaust all methods to identify a responsible party,” Nieves said.

A few Windermere High School students volunteered to listen to parents during the meeting and note down prescribed suggestions to improve school safety.

After a slight mishap with the school’s emergency alarm, which caused attendees to exit the building and continue the meeting outside before being led back inside the cafeteria, parents and students were allowed to speak. Their suggestions were recorded by student volunteers and commented on by District 4 School Board member Pam Gould. 

Parents encouraged investing in panic buttons, bulletproof windows and doors, metal detectors, training programs in emergency procedures for substitute teachers and more funding for additional school resource officers, professionally licensed guidance counselors and mental-health services.

Gabby is the news editor for the West Orange Times and Windermere Observer newspapers.┬áHave a┬ástory tip? Contact her at (352) 448-5856 or at [email protected]....

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