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Just How Safe Are Schools in E.P.?

Gaining access varies from school to school in East Providence, although all teachers and staff practice emergency drills and know how to respond, according to the superintendent.

Interim East Providence School Superintendent John DeGoes said that he will never feel comfortable with security in the schools.

“Following what happened in Newtown,” DeGoes said, “I think it will be difficult for anyone who is responsible for children to feel comfortable with the way things are. The access to weaponry is a frightening thing.”

All of East Providence’s schools practice Code Red emergency drills that include locking down the schools and sending children to the corners of rooms. Principals and staff know what to do, DeGoes said. All of the schools have emergency procedures.

“They practice drills frequently, and hope they never have to come to fruition,” DeGoes said.

The superintendent sees no immediate need, therefore, to make specific changes to existing plans.

“By and large, the schools are safe,” he said. “Most of the schools are in pretty good shape.”

But not all of them. Some exterior doors at some schools need to be replaced. And not all schools have video cameras and buzzer systems that help to identify visitors before they get inside a school.

The high school also leaves a back door open all day to allow students to get to the adjacent technology building. 

“It’s difficult to lock that down,” he said.

And the office at Riverside Middle School is quite far from the front door. Once someone gets inside, they can go almost anywhere without being spotted.

“Different schools have different problems,” he said. “We certainly need to put a plan together. I know we could do more.” 

Parents also are clearly concerned about the access to certain schools, he said.

“Yeah, people are concerned,” DeGoes said. “They ask: How safe are my children, my grandchildren, and my nieces and nephews?”

But there is also some discomfort with spending large amounts of money to limit access to the schools, he said.

DeGoes said the East Providence police have been extremely cooperative since the Newtown shooting in sending patrols to each building, especially at dismissal times.

“They were there not to frighten people, but to show concern and awareness,” he said, “and to demonstrate that they are ready to respond to emergencies.” 

People noticed the police presence when visiting the schools on Monday, DeGoes said. He expects that to continue at least in the near future.

Ms Paula G. December 21, 2012 at 01:48 PM
I do understand what " corner of the room " means ".You do not need a window if you know the location . Better idea , How about following up on gun buyers who are ALLOWED TO BUY MORE THAN ONE GUN A MONTH !Please someone give me a reason why someone would have the need to buy more than one gun a month. Isn;t it possible these guns are sold to people who should not have them , and the people who can buy them sell them to make a few dollars ?. If someone would take the time to look into what can be done about this instead of "bullet proof backs" which are not by the student's side , maybe it would keep our children safe !!!
Ms Paula G. December 21, 2012 at 01:50 PM
I agree and tht is why I was # 3 to post !!!!1
Govstench December 22, 2012 at 03:00 AM
I know the high school had a "substation" near the elevator during the drug years. That room could be re-activated and uniformed and plain cloths officers could provide security there. This security is very easy to perform by the police - keep a very low profile so as not to attract the attention of the students. I do agree with the previous posts - too much information is being given out on this medium - you never know who is reading this stuff.
Rags 1 December 25, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Armed guards in the schools? Are we going to put armed guards in the playgrounds, theaters, all gatherings, etc etc. I don't think so. There are protocols that should be between the police and the school administration best left out of the news.
Govstench December 26, 2012 at 04:25 AM
Security needs to be stepped up in the schools. As far as private venues, that is up to those operators to do that.

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