Mansfield ISD reviewing safety policies after Parkland shooting

Nearly two months after one of the country's deadliest school shootings, safety is still top of mind for students, parents and educators in North Texas.

Added security and clear backpacks are now a part of life at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. But that kind of fix isn't cutting it for many.

The day after the Parkland shooting, Mansfield ISD Superintendent Jim Vaszauskas visited each of his campuses and asked three questions.

“We asked, ‘Are you okay?’ And the second thing we asked is, ‘Are you concerned about any kids like that?’” the superintendent asked. “And then we asked ‘Are the doors and locks working? Are the panic buttons working?’"

Vaszauskas had district police investigate each concern while he called a meeting with Mansfield high school students. About 300 students attended.

"They wanted their colleagues and our teachers and our staff and everybody to take the lockdown drills more seriously. They wanted to practice in transition during a pep rally or at lunch,” the superintendent recalled. “And then, amazingly, they wanted the ability to fight back. They don't want to just hide and wait."

Now, Vaszauskas is hearing from parents. He hosted a Facebook Live Monday night. On Tuesday, he led the same forum in person.

"We don't need to interfere with student learning,” said student Shelly Reigh. “We want to maintain a safe environment for them."

"If they have to put metal detectors in, they do,” said parent Jennifer Keetch. “Is that a solution? I don't think it is."

Vaszauskas says a committee of students and staff will ultimately decide how to revise the district safety plan, which will be in place by the start of school next year.

“We talk about metal detectors. Does it keep something out of the building? Yes. But does it create a line of 200 kids waiting to go through? Which if somebody wanted to do harm, there they are Vaszauskas said. “And so we want to be real careful not to solve one problem and create something worse. I've tried to be very intentional and purposeful in these conversations. So we're going to let that committee vet it out."

The superintendent, who was named the regional teacher of the year last year, even traveled to attend a school safety meeting at which he met with the superintendent of the district that includes Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The district is hosting another meeting Thursday night at Lake Ridge High School.

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