Local leaders respond to Connecticut school massacre
December 14, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 3:30 p.m. Dec. 14, 2012
Issaquah School District and King County leaders urged action in the hours after a school shooting in Connecticut claimed 27 lives, including 20 children.
Officials sought to reassure parents about campus safety and offer advice about how parents can talk to children about the tragedy.
“On behalf of the Issaquah School District, our hearts go out to community of Newtown, Conn., and especially to the staff, students and families of Sandy Hook Elementary School,” Issaquah School District Superintendent Steve Rasmussen said in a message emailed to district parents Friday afternoon. “It’s difficult to comprehend the motivation for the horrific attack that took place this morning.
Rasmussen discussed emergency preparedness on campuses in the 17,000-student district.
“We have worked hard over the past few years to develop our building emergency preparedness plans. We have practiced and trained to respond with confidence,” he said. “Our plans have been developed in coordination with our local police and fire departments, the county’s first responder system and the state department of emergency management. In short, we have prepared extensively.”
Local law enforcement agencies, including the Issaquah Police Department, conduct regular training to address active shooter incidents.
“Nevertheless, the random nature of a sudden mass shooting can make us feel very vulnerable, particularly when innocent, vulnerable children are targeted,” Rasmussen said. “As we try to cope with this reality, we can and must help our children cope.”
The district advised parents to turn off or monitor the television, because news coverage can heighten anxiety, and young children cannot distinguish between images on television and everyday life.
Maintain a normal routine. Remain calm and reassuring. Children take cues from parents and adults.
Stick to facts and answer questions factually. Remember to filter what you say to a child, and avoid graphic details.
Be optimistic and act as a good listener and observer. Pay attention to changes in behavior.
The shooting occurred hours after a 16-year-old Skyline High School student died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a campus parking lot Thursday.
“Our school counselors and principals will be highly visible in the schools today and next week,” Rasmussen said. “If you have concerns about your child and would like the counselor to speak with him or her in private, please contact your child’s school office.”
King County Executive Dow Constantine ordered flags at all King County facilities to be lowered to half-staff, following proclamations from President Barack Obama and Gov. Chris Gregoire, to honor the victims in Newtown, Conn.
“Columbine, Blacksburg, Newtown. It sounds like a litany of Civil War battlefields,” Constantine said in a statement. “But all the killing — the periodic massacres and the thousands of individual shootings between — the killing is about nothing: not slavery, or states’ rights, or nationhood. The killing is about nothing but mentally unstable people and our continued unwillingness to enact and enforce reasonable gun safety laws.”