SOUTH FLORIDA (CBSMiami) – Local school officials reacted to the horrific massacre of nearly two dozen young kids with the same sadness shared by the rest of the nation.
“Our thoughts are with the teachers, support staff, parents and students of Sandy HookElementary School in wake of this morning’s tragic shooting,” said Sharon Glickman, president of the Broward Teachers Union, in a statement Friday afternoon.
Glickman said such an incident is a reminder that school officials and the community need to work as partners.
“We must all work together to remain vigilant in making sure our schools remain safe havens against senseless violence so student achievement can continue unimpeded,” said Glickman.
Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie is confident in the measures put in place to protect his district’s 260,000-plus students.
“The safety of our students is our highest priority. The District has safety measures in place to facilitate a safe teaching and learning environment. We continuously review our security protocols for our school campuses.”
Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan is on a Broward League of Cities task force that studies school resource officers. He says 33 school resource officers — or SRO’s — have been cut from Broward elementary schools since 2006.
Ryan says it’s a combination of budget cuts in cities and a perceived lack of need. Ryan believes that needs to change.
“Cities who have chosen to really stand behind the full-time SRO program do it because they believe it makes us safer,” Ryan told CBS 4’s Carey Codd. “They also understand it’s the foundation for all relationships that our children are going to have with police officers as they get older.”
Ryan believes cities, Broward County and the Broward School District need to make SRO’s a priority, no matter the cost.
“What we have to do as a county is say this is important to us and we don’t care where the school is located, we’re gonna make sure there’s an SRO there for our children,” Ryan said.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools officials released a statement from Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, reading: “A random act of violence is extremely difficult to prevent, particularly when it is perpetrated by an individual with mental illness. Preparedness and response protocols are key. Miami-Dade has a comprehensive Critical Incident Response plan that involves scenario enactment, lockdown and evacuation drills, as well as joint training exercises between school police and local police in our schools. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Newtown Community after this unspeakable tragedy.”
Parents who came to pick their children up from school expressed shock and sadness about what happened in Connecticut.
“I’m horrified horrible news horrible, horrible,” said Lorena Zito who arrived to pick her children up from Charles R. Hadley Elementary in Northwest Miami-Dade.
Some wondered if there is any way to keep schools safe.
“I really don’t know what else we can do but we have to do something. Our kids are in danger,” Nelson Baiza, also a parent at Hadley.
“They’re going to get to the point of having to put some kind of alarm system or something the parents have to go through or something like that,” suggested Zito with tears in her eyes.
Separately, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), a former teacher and principal, said in a statement: “I grieve not only for the parents, but also for the school staff who bear the brunt of the responsibility of caring for our nation’s children…my sympathies go out to all those affected by this violent act.”