Indiana teachers, parents scrutinize school security after Conn. shooting

26 people, including 20 children, killed

INDIANAPOLIS - The shooting deaths of 26 people, including 20 children, at a Connecticut elementary school has Indiana teachers and parents scrutinizing school safety.

Adam Lanza, 20, the son of a kindergarten teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., opened fire in two classrooms Friday, killing his mother along with children in her classroom and other teachers and staff, sources told the Associated Press.

In Indiana, schools are required to have a trained safety specialist. 

"I don't think we're going to stop anyone, necessarily," said David Woodward, of the Indiana Department of Education. "What we do have is a trained staff. We have safety plans that are tested regularly and updated."

Indianapolis Public Schools issued a statement Friday reassuring parents and students that measures are in place to keep children safe in school.

"All schools are locked, require any visitor to use only the main building entrance, require guests to enter the school through the main office and to sign in. Schools also have external and internal video surveillance assets," said spokesman John Althardt. "Teachers and administrators in each building have protocols to follow in the case of either an armed or active intruder in the building. Children go through a lockdown drill three times a year."

Parents who have questions or need support in talking to their children about the tragedy in Connecticut can contact their school principal for support.

"We ask our parents to talk to their children and reassure them that their bus driver, teacher, principal and other adults at their school are there to keep them safe," IPS Superintendent Eugene White said in a statement.

The tragedy was on the minds of teachers at IPS' Benjamin Harrison School as they hustled children to their buses Friday afternoon.

"I feel that my kids are very safe because this is a good school, and IPS does an awesome job of keeping us safe," teacher Tracey Tarr said. "We've been through several different trainings."

Teachers at the school said they take part in intruder drills at the beginning of the year and on several other occasions.

"We do have a code that we know what to do," teacher Paula Fisher said. "When we practice our drills, we take it seriously."

Parents picking their children up from Crooked Creek Elementary in Washington Township on Friday said they were grateful to know their kids were safe.

"You immediately have that concern, like, my goodness, you know elementary school, my children, however, Washington Township they do take really good measures with their elementary schools," mom Deitalia Castellan said. "I know this school in particular, you have to get buzzed in. It's not a school you can walk directly in to, so I'm very comfortable with that."

Stacey Lozer, a former PTO president, said the safety measures at the school are top notch.

"Here, at least in Washington township, and at our school, I feel very confident in what we have set up with policies and practices and procedures that are practiced regularly," she said.

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