Area Leaders React To Florida Mass Shooting

Sunday, February 18, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: Students being led out of a high school in Parkland, Fla., after a Feb. 14 mass shooting. | Getty Images 

The Feb. 14 shooting at Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Fla., where a semi-automatic-toting 19-year-old killed 17 people, garnered some reaction among local community leaders, particularly in area schools.

Maywood-Melrose Park-Broadview School District 89 Supt. David Negron wrote in a Feb. 15 letter addressed to parents and posted online that “too often we need to send a letter outlining how we will respond to tragedy. Once again, we are watching terrible events unfold in our living rooms, and I am sure you are fielding questions from your children.”

Negron said that if D89 students bring up the Florida shooting in class, teachers will “simply acknowledge the question/comment, encourage children to ask parents if they want more information, and redirect our students back to the lesson or activity.”

Along with reassuring the students that the school is safe, Negron said that teachers will also refer students to social workers if this becomes necessary.

Negron also listed several resources for families to utilize, including numerous guides from the American Psychological Association and the National Association of School Psychologists advising parents/guardians on how to talk to children about difficult news.

Proviso Township High Schools District 209 Supt. Jesse Rodriguez also released a statement for families, which was posted to the district’s Facebook page.

“These horrible events remind us of the importance of evaluating and implementing our practices to keep our students, teachers, support staff and maintenance safe and secure,” he wrote.

“The safety protocols at Proviso Township High Schools District 209 are continuously evolving to ensure effective and efficient operations for all stakeholders,” Rodriguez added.

Luigi Miguel Villaviza Cabantog, the president of the Proviso West High School Student Council, released on Facebook a statement about the shootings.

“My heart is heavy with sorrow about the tragedy that took place yesterday in Parkland, Florida,” he wrote, before listing a range of precautions students can take in case of similar emergencies.

“It is possible that this horrific event could have been prevented, so I ask everyone at Proviso West and in our surrounding community to say something if they see or hear anything that could impact student safety,” Cabantog wrote. “Please report any unusual behaviors, conversations, and or social media posts that could be threatening to our school community.

“Please alert a teacher, administrator, or your local police department immediately, and for on campus reports, please call the Proviso West Safety Hotline at (708) 202-6351.”

Cabantog also urged his fellow students to “be patient during the morning entry as our security officers conduct thorough bag checks. Their diligence and focus help to decrease the likelihood of violent incidents such as this.”

And last week, state Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (7th) introduced a bill calling for a state fund to be created to help schools fund more mental health services — not police officers.

“What we are saying is, this is a program that we believe mental health services should take priority,” Welch told CBS Local, which reported that the bill was up for debate in Springfield on the day that of the school shooting in Florida. The bill, which passed committee, was headed for the house floor as of Feb. 16. VFP 

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