© 2018 Philip Schentrup

We Must have Action!

Good afternoon. My name is Philip Schentrup, and my daughter Carmen was murdered at Stoneman Douglas. I speak today out of frustration for the inaction of the school district in response to the shooting at MSD. I am here to implore you to take decisive action and demonstrate active leadership in ensuring the safety of 270,000 students under your care.

 

As a parent of a child murdered at MSD, I expected a transparent and swift investigation into this tragedy. I expected an honest look at the causes, both internal and external, collaborative community involvement, quick but deliberate policy changes, and immediate action where people failed our children. This board echoed these goals during its March 6 meeting. To date, however, the district has failed on all these fronts.

 

In fact, a week after my daughter’s murder, Mr. Runcie came to my house, sat at my kitchen table, and told my wife and I the school district had done everything right. An outrage given I was burying my 16 year old daughter. Additionally, school board employees require lawyers to talk with detectives, school board staff are delaying, if not downright impeding, the investigation, there has been no report issued to the community with findings and recommendations, and the district has been less the forth coming with public records relating to this incident. Finally, Principal Thompson refused our April 26 request to meet and discuss our concerns about school safety. Instead of transparency and urgency in addressing systemic problems throughout the district, the district has responded with bureaucracy and obstruction.

 

I believe the district is dragging its feet not because it did everything right as stipulated by Mr. Runcie, but because it did so many things wrong. Here are just some of the details as I have from various sources including Mr. Thompson and Dr. Wanza.

  • MSD security staff routinely breached MSD’s single point of entry each day 20-30 minutes ahead of dismissal in violation of school board policy

  • Open gates were left unsupervised, even though MSD had a security staff of 12

  • Dr. Wanza indicated this lax security procedure happened at most high schools, indicating a systemic problem

  • Exterior building doors and classroom doors were left unlocked

  • The school board police somehow annually approved the schools flawed security plans.

  • At least 5 staff had first-hand knowledge of the shooting, had radios, but never radioed a code-red.

  • Mr. Porter orders an evacuation while the shooting was still active even though he and staff in admin building could hear the gun fire.

  • Teachers were allowed to put larger furniture items into the safe space classrooms. Children were killed because there was not enough safe space in the classroom. In fact, a simple idea like marking off the safe area of a classroom was rejected by Mr. Porter at a May safety meeting

  • The failures of the Promise program are well known

  • Finally, the failures have continued up to this day with my wife reporting more failed security policies to school and district staff last Tuesday.

 

As a parent and as a victim I am outraged; outraged that this school board has shown little interest in finding facts, taking decisive action where failures accrued, and owning the problem. To my knowledge, you have not demanded a report on the incident from the superintendent. You have not asked him about accountability of his staff or the school. You have not asked about district wide systemic problems. And you have not held him accountable. Leaders cannot always prevent bad things from happening, but they must tackle problems head on, with integrity, when they are identified. This has not happened to date. 17 dead, 17 more wounded, what will it take to move you into action!

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