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Carrollton schools forming Safety Committee

By Carol McIntire

The theory that positive things often come from negative situations is working in the Carrollton Exempted Village School District.

During a discussion at the Jan. 8 board of education meeting concerning a threat made by a student to bring a gun to school and kill people, it was decided to form a committee of parents and school officials to discuss safety issues, prioritize them and make changes when possible. The committee is to be made up of five parents and five students.

DeAnna Ujcich, a parent, addressed the board saying she was speaking for a group of parents who had met and summarized their safety concerns in a packet she presented to board members and administrators. 

After hearing a synopsis of the events that surrounded the threat, Ujcich said the parents were upset about the time an all-call was made by Superintendent Dr. David Quattrochi about the situation. “However, at the time I didn’t know what you had to go through to get all the facts before making the call,” she said to the superintendent. Ujcich agreed to be one of the parents on the committee.

Quattrochi said he believes the matter was handled in the “appropriate manner,” and that due to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter it “went viral” after the situation had been handled.

“The threat was made Thursday; the student was removed from school and the matter turned over to Juvenile Court officials,” he said. “I got a call at 1 a.m. from the Sheriff’s Office about what was going on at the school and thought they must be talking about something different because we handled the matter Thursday. Then I find out the Sheriff’s office got 200 calls that night.”

The superintendent said he was at Bell-Herron Middle School by 6:45 a.m. Friday to make sure all safety measures were in place. “I met with Lt. Clapper (Ron) from the Sheriff’s Department to get all the facts. The information did not warrant closing schools. Once I had all the information, I made an all-call from Bell-Herron Middle School telling parents it was up to them to decide if they wished to send their children to school. I couldn’t make that call until I had all the facts.”

“I have no control over social media,” he said. “There was no hit list as was being reported on social media. We had police officers in each building and, as an extra precaution, Lt. Clapper made arrangements to bring a metal detector to the middle school.”

“We have to work together as a school and a community to keep our children safe. We are in uncertain times. As we approach them we will learn. It is a balance between being safe and getting the facts about what is happening. I had to get all the facts before I could make a phone call to parents. I would never put students’ safety in jeopardy.”

Quattrochi said he is in favor of having a resource officer (certified law enforcement officer) in the schools.

“I’ve had previous conversations with the Sheriff’s Department about sharing the expense for a resource officer with them,” he said. “I am a firm believer of the benefits of having a resource officer in our schools.”

Board Member Bonnie Little asked if students who did not attend class Friday would be counted absent. After teachers in the crowd said Friday was the last day of the semester and attendance reports were finalized that day, Director of Programs Ed Robinson said if that is the only day a student misses during the school year, they will be awarded a perfect attendance certificate.

Another parent, who did not identify herself, asked who parents should call if an event such as that happens again.

Quattrochi suggested calling the central office or the building office where the student attends school, or law enforcement officials.

“I will put a message out as soon as I have all the facts,” Quattrochi said.

Parent Mark Thompson asked if the district has a plan in place for student safety if a shooting occurs.

Quattrochi replied, “ Yes,” and said it is practiced just as fire drills are in the buildings.

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