BOE pays respect to victims of Calif. school shooting

Members of the Monroe Township Board of Education reflected on events that occurred on the day of their meeting, Nov. 14, specifically the morning shooting that killed two students at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, Calif.

“I’d like to say as a school district and as our superintendent, our thoughts and prayers go out to those who are struggling right now in California with the tragedy that occurred in Los Angeles County,” interim Superintendent Dr. Richard Perry said.

“You never know when it’s going to strike, it could be anybody, it could be any school system. It’s always a horrific tragedy. It’s a shame students of today practice lockdowns, shelters in place and we live in that world. It’s very emotional for them out there.”

Perry believes educators can make the difference in getting ahead of such tragedies.

“I think it’s something we should look at as a community, look at social-emotional programs and other different initiatives,” he noted. “It’s incumbent upon us as educational leaders to try to get a hold of some kind of direction so that if it (a shooting) does occur, God forbid, happens in this community or a community near us, we are prepared and we did everything we could to support students going through these types of situations.”

Board Vice President Jeff Simpler also spoke about the shooting.

“Our hearts and blessings go out to those families, the victims, the whole community,” he  said.

In other news:

  • Resident Scott Whyte addressed the board during public comment on the topic of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

“We need to educate our administrators, our teachers, our counselors more on this McKinney-Vento program,” he insisted.

The program provides federal money for homeless shelter programs; it was approved in 1987 by former President Ronald Reagan.

“We need to get these homeless students on the same level as everybody else and start putting time into it, getting them transportation and making sure they have all the rights and opportunities that everybody else has to stay after and be in these clubs,” Whyte elaborated.

“At the end of the day, when that white van’s there to pick those kids up, they have to get in that van and go because they have no other ride home. As a district, we need to start sending people to these meetings and making sure our schools are educated on the  McKinney-Vento program.”

  • Perry said the Monroe Township School District is researching an aeronautics program to train mechanics for airline work. It remains in the planning stage, with nothing set in stone he added.
  • April Smitheman, a longtime volunteer and integral part of Williamstown High School’s Project Graduation, recently suffered a stroke. Simpler spoke about her during one of his reports, noting the Smitheman family has a GoFundMe page to help mitigate medical costs. Find the fundraiser by searching Tireless Volunteer Needs Your Help and April Smitheman on GoFundMe. “As dedicated and supportive she has been to our school district and our project graduation, we need to repay this favor,” Simpler said.
  • The next board of education meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., Dec. 19, at Williamstown High School. The meeting is open to the public.