June 17 ē 01:04 AM
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School district responds to motherís concern about safety

Dear Editor,

The first day of school is a day I will never forget. Like many parents I took my son to school with my camera in one hand and his hand in the other. We walked the long hallways trying to fight back the tears, mine not his. We both had butterflies in our bellies; it's the first day of kindergarten. As we get closer I get sick to my stomach to think that he will be here everyday without me to protect him. I won't be able to see his face as he plays. I am scared to let go. My son, my life, my heart, my soul, he is ready and doesn't think twice with a smile on his face he wipes my tears and gives me a kiss, "bye mom."

I leave my child, my son, my everything in that room. As I walk down the hall crying I really did think he would be all right. But to my surprise he walked right out of that classroom and out of that school after being there for more than two hours. He walked home, crossing Main Street without a crossing guard, to enter our empty home. No one knew he left. Where does that leave me? How do I take my son back to school? I only want what is best for P.J., he is what matters. I wish I knew what to do, what do I do? How can I make this situation better?

After careful thought and speaking to all involved I felt he should return. It was a hard choice to make. I then realized that if he could get out so easily, who could get in?

More than a week later I checked three doors from the outside other than the main entrance and they were unlocked. I was able to enter. Yes, a sticker on the door says to check in at the office but if I was there to do harm that would mean nothing to me.

Let's not wait for something worse to happen, let's prevent. We vaccinate our children before they get sick. Why not secure our schools before harm can come to them? I want to know if any other parents think it's time for change.

It took a lot of thought to send this out. I just need to have my story heard.

Editor's note: Capac Community Schools Supt. Jerry Jennex responds as follows:

Capac Community Schools regrets that the incident described by Mrs. Snider involving her son took place on the first day of school. Significant communication between school administration and the involved staff members has taken place, and while we can't guarantee that a student could never leave our building undetected, we do not believe this will happen again, it was an isolated incident.

Mrs. Snider was encouraged by me to communicate her concerns about school safety with other parents through the monthly parent involvement meetings sponsored by Capac Elementary School Principal Dave Rees. Mrs. Snider read her statement to the group and it sparked significant dialogue regarding school safety. While it is true that many local schools provide "locked down" security at their buildings, many other local schools do not. When I first visited Capac, I was tremendously impressed by the number of parents in our elementary building on a regular basis, I am still impressed by our parent involvement. I believe that having these parents in our building makes it a safer and better place. These parents help watch out for the well-being of our children. Our challenge is to provide safety, security, and a positive place for our students. We will continue to work with our community toward those goals. Any parent who has an interest or concern is invited to contact me or elementary principal Dave Rees to let us know their thoughts as we constantly consider how to make Capac Elementary School the best that it can be.

Cherie Snider, Capac
October 08, 2008

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