After Sandy Hook, school officials get security briefing

GLOVERSVILLE – School officials were tight lipped while discussing a private safety training meeting sparked by the deadly shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. in mid December.

The training event was held Friday and attended by three districts in the Hamilton Fulton Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Services and representatives from Homeland Security.

Representatives from local police and fire companies also attended the event.

“We can’t reveal a lot about the details of the training since anyone wishing to do harm could potentially use the information,” Gloversville Enlarged School District Superintendent Michael Vanyo said. “I think we can all agree, in light of recent tragic events, training of this nature is an important step in addressing school safety.”

More than 800 faculty members from the Gloversville district, Greater Johnstown School District, Wheelerville Union Free School District and HFM BOCES attended the event, according to a news release.

They reviewed how to enhance safety awareness among school personnel as well as security protocol with officials from Homeland Security’s New York Division.

Officials held a news conference after the event.

“The reality is we have work to do academically, but we also have to make sure that our kids are in the safest place possible, so that started the process early on at least in Gloversville where [we] looked at how we can do things differently,” Vanyo said.

That included looking at a buildings safety plan, how to handle student reports and working towards helping students suffering with mental health problems.

HFM BOCES Superintendent Pat Michel said the focus is on being proactive rather than reactive, that is preventing shootings from occurring rather than responding to an active shooter.

Michel said the plans include measures such as creating a respectful environment for students and encouraging students and faculty to report suspicious behavior among students. Michel said several shooters in the past, including the shooters at Columbine in 1999, showed signs of a possible shooting.

On the opposite end, Michel said when strange behavior is reported, the shooting can be prevented. An example cited was in November 2007, at Arlington High School in LaGrangeville, N.Y., where New York state troopers arrested Patrick Quigley, 16, and Joseph Saia, 16, of Poughquag, and a 15-year-old from Hopewell Junction whose name was withheld because of his age.

The arrests followed an investigation of a threat described on the online social networking site, Police said the students posted messages and photos describing an attack planned for April 20, 2010, 11 years to the day following Columbine.

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