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January 13. 2013 11:39PM

Salem to host safety forum

SALEM - Parents and educators are encouraged to attend a public forum at Salem High School tonight to address school safety and security.

Open to all interested parents, educators and community members, the forum will give attendees the chance to share their thoughts about improving safety procedures while learning about the district's current safety practices, Superintendent Michael Delahanty said.

"In light of the tragic school shooting in Connecticut, the school board and administrators wanted to explain our current emergency procedures," Delahanty said.

Fire Chief Kevin Breen, who directs the community's emergency operations and response program, and Deputy Police Chief Shawn Patten, who oversees the district's school resource officers and implements their training, will also be on hand to answer questions and respond to concerns.

"Most of the time provided by this forum will be dedicated to hearing from parents and members of the public regarding their thoughts about improving safety protocols," Delahanty said.

Salem has three school resource officers, with one stationed at the high school, one at Woodbury Middle School and one making regular visits to the elementary schools, according to Patten.

Patten said he hadn't received many calls from concerned parents in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, but after meeting with school and fire officials, all agreed it would be best to give the public a chance to ask questions.

Delahanty said the district's response to the Sandy Hook shootings was immediate, with letters sent home to parents informing them that the district would work with local safety officials to keep Salem's schools safe.

He noted that each of the district's schools have well-rehearsed emergency management plans in place to address any type of threat that could occur, and staff are regularly trained on response strategies for various situations.

The district's school safety public forum will take place in the high school's television studio starting at 7 p.m.

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