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Parents says schools are safe

October 11, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY - They see administrators walking the halls. They see locked doors. They see visitors signing in at the office.

And they think their children are safe.

Most parents of Washington County Public Schools students interviewed Tuesday said they feel comfortable sending their children to school. They said students are as safe as they can be, even in the wake of recent school shootings across the country and a Herald-Mail report that shed light on possible security issues at the county's public schools.

Some parents, however, were concerned.

Donna Lowe, a parent of a Pangborn Elementary School student, said she kept her daughter home Tuesday after the school was locked down Monday.

"There were police there (at the school)," she said. "Nobody could answer any questions."

Lowe said fear for her daughter's safety at school has her and her husband looking into private schools as an option.

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"If they're more closed in and there's more (caution) about who's going in and out ...," Lowe said. "At this point, I just don't really know what to do. Homeschool your kid because you're afraid to send them (to school) because you don't know who's going in and out?"

Ron Hardy, a Washington County Sheriff's deputy who was picking up his three children from school Tuesday in Boonsboro, said he believes the schools are safe. When Hardy and other deputies are in the area, they will patrol the parking lots and the inside of buildings, and speak with administrators, he said.

He has children in the elementary and middle schools in Boonsboro.

"It's very safe," Hardy said. "No problems."

He said the principals at the schools are focused on safety. Deputies on patrol make sure doors are locked that are supposed to be locked and will often walk the halls, he said.

Herbert Fox's granddaughter, 7-year-old Kailee Lucas, is a second-grader at Boonsboro Elementary. Fox said he believes she is very safe there.

"Everybody feels fine, but it's in the back of your mind ... could it happen?" he said.

Annette Griffith said she wants to think that her son, who attends Boonsboro Elementary, is safe at school.

"I am very concerned," she said. "This never happened in school years ago, and it's getting more common."

Jestine Chaney and Jessica Snyder each picked up their first-graders from Funkstown Elementary School and said Tuesday they think their children are safe at school.

The principal and other administrators are usually at the door to greet people coming in and out, they said. And those administrators typically try to know all of the parents, making it difficult for a stranger to slip by, Snyder said.

Amanda Charles, who also has a Funkstown Elementary first-grader, said she has noticed that there is a door at the school that has a swipe card entry, but others do not.

"I don't know why that is," she said. "I think (students) are as safe as they can be right now, but more can be done."

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