HOUSTON — Two Houston-area school districts issued a statement about their campus security following Friday morning’s tragedy at a school in Connecticut.
An early report indicated a gunman entered a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school and opened fire. At least 27 people were killed, including 20 children.
A spokesman for the Houston Independent School District said the following statement was being issued in response to requests for comments about the mass shooting:
“The Houston Independent School District joins the nation in mourning the tragic loss of life at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn. Crisis management procedures, which include campus lockdown protocols, are in place at every HISD campus. The approximately 200 officers in the HISD Police Department receive regular crisis response training as well. The safety of students and staff is HISD’s top priority.”
No further statements on the incident would be released.
Fort Bend I.S.D. southwest of Houston also issued a statement, saying, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families in Newtown, Connecticut, after the tragic shootings at the elementary school this morning.”
The district said its police were checking with its elementary campuses to support them. The district also said it “constantly reviews emergency procedures with all campuses to ensure that school officials follow these procedures.”
Katy ISD Superintendent Alton Frailey sent the following message to parents Friday:
"Today our nation witnessed one of the most horrific events that one can imagine as a gunman took the lives of approximately 20 elementary school children and several staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Our hearts go out to the families of the students and staff members who were impacted by today’s tragedy, as well as the entire Newtown community.
"Even though this took place hundreds of miles away from Katy, its impact reaches across the nation and gives us reason to pause and think about our own schools and the safety and well-being of our own children, as no community is immune to random acts of violence.
"At this hour, there is still a lot of information to learn with regard to the Connecticut shooter, his relationship to the school, how he gained access to the building, and the security measures that were in place. I want, however, to take this opportunity to reassure you that here in Katy ISD we take proactive measures to not only be prepared to respond to such incidents, but to prevent – to the extent that we can – them from occurring in the first place.
"As an immediate response, Katy ISD police officers will have an increased presence in and around our campuses next week. In addition, our counselors have been put on standby to be prepared to meet with students who may have emotional concerns as a result of today’s tragedy.
"In addition to the above, the district has other measures in place to help keep students and staff safe. For instance, in recent years we have upgraded many of our facilities with entry vestibules to help control access to our campuses and have established procedures for all campus visitors. We also provide training to our campus staff to reinforce proper procedures with regard to keeping doors locked, questioning suspicious individuals and proper response procedures should an intruder make their way on campus.
"Katy ISD also has plans and procedures in place to address emergency situations that a campus or the district may face. The district’s School Safety Task Force, which includes representatives from each campus, as well as from local EMS, fire, and law enforcement, reviews these plans annually. In addition, an emergency response guide is located in every classroom and is accessible from the desktop of every staff computer in the district.
"Finally, I would also like to stress the important role we all have in keeping our students and schools safe. Research shows that in cases involving school violence, someone knew something about the threat but never alerted anyone. Please take this time to talk to your children about the important role we all have in keeping our schools safe by reporting potential threats to the proper authorities.
"The safety and security of students and staff members on our campuses is of the highest priority and by working together to create healthy and positive relationships with teachers and the school, we can ensure that we provide safe teaching and learning environments."