By Karen Daniels
With every unfortunate situation that occurs, there is an opportunity to review current procedures and enhance or revamp for better preparedness in schools across the nation. These words came from Dr. Hindt as he addressed Mayor Scarcella and City Council regarding the inaccuracy from the Texas State Attorney General’s office for listing Stafford MSD as non-compliant for their safety audit.
Dr. Hindt was troubled that before a moment of silence in honor of those lost during the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy could be carried out, the Texas AG’s office had issued a list of Districts who were in non-compliance of their safety audit, accusing schools of not doing enough to protect their students, without first taking the time to verify their information. “To say I was upset is quite an understatement,” Dr. Hindt said to Council.
He further explained SMSD’s safety procedures and precautions which include monitored surveillance, constant drills, the coordination of campus police and city police, and keyless entries beginning January 2013, to name a few. He further advised how seriously the District takes the safety of everyone. “If teachers and students don’t feel safe, it doesn’t matter what you teach, kids aren’t going to learn” and assured the Mayor and Council that SMSD turned in the report on time.
Councilman Fred Woolridge asked if the AG’s office had retracted their statement or issued an apology. Dr. Hindt informed the Councilman that although SMSD was later removed from the non-compliant list, nothing further has come from the AG’s office.
Councilman Robert Sorbet advised that no matter how safe you make things, something could still happen. He suggested that perhaps the incorrect mention of SMSD was a “silver lining for another opportunity to reinforce the public” that SMSD is doing everything they can to keep students safe.
Councilman Cecil Willis stated his extreme disappointment at the lawmakers in Austin. “If they (legislature) can’t balance a budget, I don’t want them telling us how to keep our kids safe.”
Councilman Ken Matthew explained that he felt this was an “attention grabbing attempt (on the part of the AG’s office) to publish a list within three days of such a horrible event.”
Mayor Leonard Scarcella commended Dr. Hindt for assuring Council that SMSD is safe. He stressed that the focus should be on acting “responsibly and instantly” in handling campus threats and to not “get caught up in other issues” such as politics. He further added that since Dr. Hindt has been the Superintendent of SMSD, student population has increased by 11%.