Mom blasts lack of security at Atkinson


By Bill O’Connor –

This past Monday was the first 2013 business meeting of the Henderson County School Board began with no promise of anything more unusual than the annual audit report presentation. It began as always with staff achievement awards. In this case it was teachers who have qualified for the multi-year labor to gain National Board Certification. Seven teachers were recognized and presented with Achievement awards.

Two people had signed up for public comment. Dr. Don Jones of the School Foundation spoke first announcing the March 21st Hall of Fame Banquet and Induction Ceremony at the Hendersonville Country Club with Dr. Molly Parkhill of Blue Ridge Community College giving the keynoter. Jones also noted the 4th Annual Boyd BBQ Expo for April 20 at the Henderson High School Stadium.

Then Shannen Kuzia stepped forward and asked to read a written statement. She was relaxed and calm throughout her presentation. She had, she said, been pleased on moving to Henderson County, to know her daughter would be attending Atkinson. She was given a tour by the Principal Matthew Johnson during which she asked if there was a police presence, locked outside doors, a buzzer, or buzz-in system, background checks on volunteers including finger prints. She reports that Principal Johnson said they are a “close knit” community with no need for these sorts of excessive security measures. Mrs. Kuzia reported visiting Atkinson for the Christmas Lunch on 12/14/2012, the day of the Sandy Hook Massacre, walking in without sign-in, challenge or greeting until she asked and was allowed to sign-in. She was told again “don’t worry”. On January 4th she went to the school for a volunteer day. She found the gym doors unlocked and again went in and to the office without challenge or greeting. On Jan. 8th she had a meeting with Principal Johnson reporting her concerns and that she had checked that very day and found the gym doors blocked open with mats. Johnson replied that “Mr. Jones (School Superintendent) has inspected our security and is very impressed with it”. She went to the school on January 10th to pick her daughter up for a doctor visit and was allowed to pick her up without challenge or sign-in, again, until she asked if she could sign for the pick-up. Mrs. Kuzia restated the five occasions where lax security was found and ended by saying; “I entrust my daughter’s safety to you for over 30 hours a week:,” show that you are worthy of that trust.

Mr. Jones took a few minutes to say that they do have door locking rules, and background checks. He apologized for the letdown at Atkinson and promised to act to make sure school staff and management understood the policy in the future.

Domestic disputes and mischief are the main security problems in our schools, but too often the evil and the insane bent on suicide and fame take guns to a “gun-free zone” usually filled with innocent children not incidentally, but because evil and insanity know they will not be challenged and can do their mayhem without interference for a while.

We may dream of a world of peace where there are no guns, but not even fairy tale writers tell of a world without danger or evil. So, let’s forget political positions and talking points. There are only three things in the real world that can be done by adults present when an evil or insane person bursts into a school where your child or grandchild is enrolled:

Call 911 – and have them hide and wait for the police; they will then have only have 5-15 minutes to murder them….and the children

Call 911 – and have them challenged by unarmed staff sacrificing their lives to delay his murder of children

Call 911 – and have they challenged by armed and trained people to see that no one dies unless the intruder volunteers.

Your child is in the school. Choose.

Would any sane person fail to choose number 3? Will we whistle past the graveyard until evil visits one of our schools? Do we have the courage to revisit the ill-advised closing of institutions for the dangerously ill mentally?

No school anywhere will be safe until a sign rests in front saying:

The Children in this School are Cherished and Protected by Loving and Caring, Trained and Armed Staff/Adults/Officers

Principal Matthew Johnson stated that he is engaging in a review of security at Atkinson to address Shannen Kuzia’s concerns.

Earlier the Board was presented with their FY 2012 Audit Report by Terry Andersen of Carland and Andersen. The report was routine, mostly praise for the board and staff for “their excellent work and cooperation,” and Andersen, as is usual in the presentation of public audits, mentioned two minor areas for improvement. Andersen and Carland have been auditing the school system for many years. Mr. Andersen did not return a call to verify how many. And the rest was pretty much routine.

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