In a letter to parents and staff Friday, New Haven Community Schools Superintendent Keith Wunderlich expressed his condolences for the victims and families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and announced that Monday would bring a complete review of the district's own security measures.
"First thing Monday morning I am having a conference call with the principals to review all our security procedures," Wunderlich wrote. "A review is always a good thing. This weekend would also be a good time for parents to talk to their children. Tell them how important it is to keep the lines of communication open. Together, we will keep New Haven the safe place it is."
Wunderlich's remarks come in the wake of what is being described by national media as one of the worst school shootings in the history of the U.S.
At approximately 9:30 a.m. this morning, a man – whose identity police have yet to confirm – entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children.
Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance later confirmed the death of the gunman and one other adult victim at a "secondary scene" in Connecticut during a press conference Friday, according to Newtown Patch.
"My first reaction is to wonder what’s happened to our country?" Wunderlich writes in his letter. "Three days ago, in Oregon, someone opened fire in a shopping mall. In Colorado, back in July, it was a movie theater shooting during the premier of Batman. Where is it that we are safe?
"My second reaction immediately turns to our 1400 students and our staff. Do we have everything in place to keep them safe?"
New Haven was faced with its own security risk just this past week, when administrators learned that a high school student had allegedly made a threat and was coming to school Thursday with a gun. The threat was reportedly made on Facebook.
"We immediately called the police," Wunderlich said. "Police investigated as we investigated. The police talked to students, took statements, and visited homes. We accessed Facebook and looked for the threat. Many phone calls were made. We placed the student who allegedly made the threat on indefinite suspension pending the investigation. The police were in the high school on Thursday morning. We did a very thorough investigation."
By mid-morning Wednesday, administration and police determined that the threat was non-existent, the result of a high school rumor mill. However, Wunderlich said he would always rather overreact than under-react in such a situation.
"Our students are hypersensitive to everything that’s said and things like the Connecticut shooting today just reinforce it," he writes in his letter. "What will prevent incidents from happening in New Haven is all of us working together. Students need to speak up. Parents and students need to talk. Our schools need to hear about any potential problems. And, we need to follow-up and involve the police if it’s necessary.
Wunderlich closed his letter with this request to parents: "Hug your kids this weekend."
At the state level, Michigan's Gov. Rick Snyder is due to consider legislation that passed the House and Senate this week that would allow gun owners with concealed weapon permits to carry a gun into schools, daycares, hospitals or public arenas if they get extra training.
However, Snyder told Local 4 Friday that he plans to take a week to review the bill given the recent tragedy.