When someone asks another person, “Have you heard about the school shooting,” and that person hasn’t, you can sense instant concern as they respond with “No! Where?”
They’re hoping “not my kid’s school,” or “not my niece’s or nephew’s school,” or “not the school so-and-so teaches at.”
In our minds, we quickly go through a list of all the people we know with school-age children or who work in a school setting and hope, “Please, no. Not there.”
But one day, for Noel Glacer, it did happen at the school his son attended.
When It Happens at Your School
“When I first got the news there was a shooting at the high school, I thought, ‘Someone’s just brandishing a weapon; it’s not going to be full-on. No way,’” Glacer said. His son, Jake, survived the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School shooting in Parkland, Fla. in 2018.
Glacer wrote a LinkedIn article about his son’s experience shortly after the shooting, The Parkland Shooting from the Eyes of My Son.
“When I was doing 120 on the highway and getting passed by cops, I knew it was bad,” Glacer remembered.
Jake was a junior in room 1213. He watched four kids get shot.
“No one thinks it can happen to them,” Glacer said. “I came out lucky. He’s now a junior in college. The days and months after that shooting was trying as a parent, as a person, and as someone in the security business.”
According to Sandy Hook Promise, we’ve already seen the number of school shootings return to pre-COVID-19 levels and increased by some accounts.
Turning Trauma Into Action
Glacer is now the Vice President of SOS (Secure Our Schools) Parkland, Inc. The nonpartisan organization was founded after the Parkland shooting with just one goal, “to take meaningful action to improve the security of every school in our nation, starting with the schools located in Parkland.”
SOS Parkland works with school principals, teachers, staff, and law enforcement to examine recommendations from security consultants to determine the best course of action to make schools more secure.
After the Parkland shooting, Glacer met with school administrators with the hope of making safety improvements that would prevent another tragedy in the future. “I put the PASS program in front of the school facilities and maintenance owner, the guy who runs that at the school,” he said. “He put it in front of the head chancellor,” he said.
Although Glacer was not a part of the meetings to ultimately decide which strategies were implemented, getting the conversation started was a critical first step. In fact, it’s something he strongly encourages. Anyone can start asking questions about school safety and security.
“I really want to build awareness within the school community,” Glacer said. “For example, if you don’t know the protocols, ask. Get on a team to drive them forward.”
Improving School Safety and Security
Glacer believes we need to “fund the approved and recommended security initiatives via the school parent/teacher groups that are set up in each school and secure our schools,” he said. But he admits it’s not as easy as it sounds because each school district has its own bureaucracy to deal with.
“This is where it hurts,” Glacer said. “We [SOS Parkland] raised a ton of money… We met with the school several times, but when it came time for approval from the school administration, the superintendent would not approve the pieces they wanted to get done.”
As the sixth largest school district in the country, they needed a blanketed security approach that worked for all of the schools, Glacer said.
“Once we’d get one thing approved, we’d hit another wall,” he said. “People on the board started to leave. After the lawsuit came in, the superintendent wouldn’t do anything. I knew I needed something as a tool. The schools are so disparate. There was no synergy. The principals have to take care of their own schools.”
This is why he believes PASS is the best starting point for any school to give them an idea of what’s available.
It’s All About Mitigation
“You can’t prevent this stuff, but you can mitigate,” Glacer said. “In security, one thing I’ve learned is you talk about mitigation.”
Even the little things could have a significant impact. One small safety and security measure could save one life. And to the mother, father, and sibling of that one life, that is everything.
Maybe, with a new school year approaching, you’re wondering how to improve safety and security within your school. PASS can help you set up a safety and security plan in four steps. As Glacer believes, doing something is better than doing nothing. And even if your school can’t afford all the latest technology gadgets in the safety and security realm, it’ll be a start.
“Perfectionism is the enemy of progress,” Glacer said. “Good is better than nothing.”
Contributors: PASS thanks Noel Glacer for his time contributing to this article.
The Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) bringing together expertise from the education, public safety, and industry communities to develop and support a coordinated approach to making effective and appropriate decisions with respect to safety and security investments. You can download the complete PASS Guidelines or check out our PASS Safety and Security Checklist for quick tips on how to get started. These resources—as well as whitepapers on various topics including barricade devices, lockdown drills, and more—are available at no cost.
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