Superintendent Mazzi responds to Connecticut school shootings
By LENNY C. LEPOLA
News Assistant Managing Editor
Big Walnut Local School District Superintendent Steve Mazzi attended last Wednesday evening’s Sunbury Village Council meeting to thank council members and the Sunbury Police Department for added police visibility during the days following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Over the weekend following the shootings, and because of the sudden fears both locally and nationally about the ease of school access and student safety, Mazzi contacted Sunbury Police Chief Pat Bennett to ask for officer visibility at each of the district schools inside Sunbury, before and after school hours and also throughout the day.
“We were all shocked and saddened by the events of last Friday in Connecticut, but we want everyone to know what a great community this is,” Mazzi said to council members. “Three phone calls – to Sunbury Mayor Tommy Hatfield, to Sunbury Police Chief Pat Bennett, and to Delaware County Sheriff Russ Martin – brought a level of collaboration in a time of need that is part of what makes this community so special.”
In a letter to parents of students and members of the community posted on the school district website, Mazzi said the school district is constantly reviewing safety and security procedures, practicing drills and working closely with local law enforcement agencies to revisit safety procedures on an ongoing basis.
In a separate letter sent home with students on Monday, December 17, Mazzi said the Connecticut shootings are a stark reminder of the importance of safety procedures and check-in and screening processes for all visitors to Big Walnut schools.
“Our parents and community are our partners in security and we appreciate your support when visiting our buildings,” Mazzi wrote. “One of the most important ways you help us is to take the time to sign in and to wear a badge at all times when in the building. As a staff, we will be wearing our badges and we will be approaching everyone without a badge.”
Currently, Mazzi wrote, all school building doors are locked and accessible only by key or fob except for the front doors, and visitors must use these front entrances and check into the office immediately upon arrival when visiting district schools.
Mazzi said the district has been discussing solutions to all of the district’s buildings main entry point architectures and will be meeting with an architect to evaluate each building. He said the district is assessing buzz-in systems and even potential remodeling.
“Each of our school buildings has its own, personalized Emergency Operations Plan that details procedures to follow in case of an emergency — fire, tornado, bomb threat, earthquake, flood, intruder,” Mazzi wrote. “It includes responsibilities of personnel, medical responses and lock-down procedures.”
Mazzi said each district school building annually reviews and updates its Emergency Operations Plan with the help of local law enforcement officials, and safety drills are conducted throughout the year to ensure staff and students have the opportunity to practice emergency responses and improve procedures.
“In addition to traditional emergency drills, we conduct safety drills, such as lockdowns that are designed to ensure the protection of students against acts of violence such as terrorism and the presence of weapons in a building,” Mazzi wrote. “We will be conducting our next lockdown drill upon return from winter break. We mention this to make sure that students and parents are not duly alarmed.”
Mazzi also noted that building administrators and staff also participate in safety training sessions that allow them to implement the best safety practices in their schools; and district administrators work with local law enforcement officials to ensure that the district implements the best practices in school security and is in compliance with the State of Ohio’s safety mandates and crisis response preparations.
To read the complete text of Steve Mazzi’s letter to Big Walnut parents go to the school district website at < bigwalnut.k12.oh.us >, at the bottom of the page click “View News Archives”, then scroll down and click on “Safety and Security Message From Mr. Mazzi 12–17-12”.