SANTA FE

Steve Krause concedes he hasn’t been particularly active in Santa Fe politics. After sitting through a school district meeting on Monday, he lit a cigarette and spoke with other parents, taking some final moments to debrief before going home.

Krause, who has a high-school-age daughter, has joined a group of parents who, on social media and in person, talk about what kind of security changes they want to see in Santa Fe schools before the next school year starts.

“Don’t say that too loudly,” he said upon mention of the group. Membership in the group could put the parents on the outs with school district leaders, he said.

“The district has lied, they’ve covered things up,” he said, saying he’s heard of school employees being fired for speaking out. “That’s nothing to take lightly. I just don’t see how we can trust the board right now.”

The Santa Fe Independent School District’s board of trustees meeting on Monday was the first regular board meeting since the May 18 shooting that left 10 people dead and 13 others injured. Held a little more than a month after the shooting, the meeting had its moments of normalcy that’s mostly been elusive for people in the community since the tragedy.

It started with the announcement of academic awards, meant for the district’s youngest students. They were called up by name to shake hands with the board members. The board passed its annual budget, received an investment report and approved a new procurement management agreement — normal things done by every school board around Texas.

But the routine was interrupted as parents signed up to speak during the board’s 30-minute public comment period.

Many parents seemed distrustful of the district and its leaders. Some threatened to lead campaigns in upcoming elections to replace them, others online have contemplated lawsuits.

Some blamed the board for not having better security plans in place before the shooting.

“My son is dead because you all didn’t address it,” said Rosie Yanas, the mother of shooting victim Chris Stone.

Some speakers also brought up past incidents in the district, saying they did not feel adequately informed about what had happened then, or that the district’s response was weak, and did little to alleviate the issues they think contributed to the shooting.

One woman mentioned the district’s response to a social media account started by a high schooler in 2016 that shared videos of fistfights between students at the school. Others spoke — without specifics — of a student’s suicide they said was a result of bullying.

At particular issue was the lack of an official decision by the district to accept an offer of six metal detectors for district schools that was made after the shooting. One speaker presented the board with a petition with hundreds of signatures she said were in support of installing the devices.

School board President J.R. “Rusty” Norman said he’d heard of the donation, but that the administration would consider all its options — and listen to the recommendations of the district’s recently formed security committee — before making some decisions.

In a summary of a security committee meeting released later in the week, the district said metal detectors were being discussed. Those security meetings aren’t open to the general public or the media. Members include educators, parents and law enforcement officers chosen by the district. The free metal detectors could be installed by August if the committee determines them to be a top priority, the district said.

The board has made some security-related decisions, including providing funding for 10 new police officers and security guards, as well as for weapons and vehicles for those new employees to use.

Board members stayed silent during the public comment period, as criticisms were directed at them. That frustrated some people, who said they wanted a more open dialogue about security.

But Norman said he thought it was better to let the parents have their say, even if some of the claims they made were based on what he called “misinformation.”

“We don’t want anyone to feel intimidated,” Norman said. “I don’t want them to feel that they can’t come speak because we’re immediately going to respond with something that redirects it.”

That promise didn’t entirely satisfy parents like Krause, who complained about some of the focus of the meeting.

“You’re voting on buses and police cars, but you’re not saying anything about putting metal detectors in the schools,” he said. “You’re not saying anything about securing the schools. They should have been prepared. They should have had a vote.”

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; john.ferguson@galvnews.com or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

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(9) comments

James Bowles

To the Santa Fe School Board...YU can't make everyone happy so don't try. Do what is best for your kids...and your police and administrators know a whole lot more than these loud mouths.

Rusty Schroeder

YU ?? Why not YOO ? How do you know what you have posted to be true? Lawsuits are coming, I have said this before. The school board hid for a month, there was no plan until there was an active shooter, and they let a kid break dress code and walk in the High School with a shotgun. So yes, let the loudmouths as you call them speak, together as a community maybe we can prevent other tragedies from happening here or elsewhere.

Carlos Ponce

"there was no plan until there was an active shooter"
That is contrary to what I have heard and what has been reported:
"Santa Fe High School had armed cops and active shooter drills. Yet 10 people died."
https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/21/us/santa-fe-high-school-preparations-trnd/index.html
"Santa Fe High students had active shooter drill, had 'done this before' "
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/santa-fe-high-school-shooting-texas-students-had-active-shooter-drill-before/
"Santa Fe High School had conducted active shooter drills, armed police officers patrolled the hallways and students went through a scare in February after a false report of a campus gunman. "
https://www.ksat.com/news/texas/police-response-to-texas-school-shooting-remains-unclear
"SFISD trains and updates all staff and students in safety procedures in major crisis events like an active shooter incident, fire or tornado." Apr 20, 2015
https://www.galvnews.com/education/free/article_a6a866c4-e717-11e4-93dc-e3c2f1f4ac02.html

Rusty Schroeder

Carlos I heard it from Rusty Norman on Sunday morning after the shooting at Aldersgate UMC. I wasn't the only one that was shocked by the comment. I have mentioned this before, and also know your loyalty to staff and the district. Not saying that is a bad thing, but it is what it is. I could say a lot more as could you, we will have to have that cup of coffee soon. I do consider you a good steward for SFISD and the community with the Historical Museum, in case you didn't know. :)

Carlos Ponce

You listened to Rusty Norman. I listened to the students of SFISD,

Rusty Schroeder

Yeah, he is only the President of the school board, what was I thinking to believe him?

David Doe

How about parent take a little responsibility themselves by tightening the screws on their children and Social Media? It's out of hand and you can't blame others if your children have issues or other children and you don't Speak Up! Everyone wants to blame someone else. The buck stops at YOUR door, not mine. The young man that shot children had issues, it was easy to see and students Knew it!

George Croix

“Don’t say that too loudly,” he said upon mention of the group. Membership in the group could put the parents on the outs with school district leaders, he said."

If you're afraid to even have people know what you think, how do you expect to resolve anything?

As always, problem solutions or remediations bog down due to two factors:
Money and inertia.
It also doesn't help to blame the actions of a killer on other people. That just immediately interjects defensiveness into what should be an analytical and open minded effort.

Clinton Little

Who are the participant's in bullying? Answer all who are guilty of stereotyping an individual averse to the go along to get along philosophy. Why does bullying occur ?, the chicken yard effect that appears to be inherent in some animal species including humans. When observing chickens, one chicken pecks another, suddenly near every chicken in the yard will peck it bloody. In the school setting every level of participation in the process of education can share guilt of bullying.

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