Safety in school

We certainly understand the anxiety of Montrose-area parents following the horrifying knife attack on a 17-year-old girl at Montrose High School Tuesday morning.

“Is everything possible being done to ensure our students are safe?” That’s the question on every parent’s mind now. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer.

First, though, we applaud Montrose High Principal Jill Myers and the Montrose school district for quickly arranging a community meeting Tuesday evening to discuss the attack, parental concerns and possible responses.

Secondly, we join countless others across western Colorado in wishing the victim, Mallory Haulman, a speedy recovery. It was wonderful news to learn she had recovered enough to be released from the hospital on Wednesday. She and her family deserve everyone’s support.

The 14-year-old boy who slashed Haulman’s throat is in custody. But little is known about him or his motive. He wasn’t a student at Montrose High. He had apparently attended a variety of schools, including possibly one in Grand Junction. It is not clear if he knew Haulman.

His attack has once again raised the question of how to make our students safe in their schools. There is only one guaranteed solution: Turn our schools into virtual fortresses in which no one but students, faculty and approved visitors are allowed access, and even they must be thoroughly searched before entering.

We can’t imagine anyone — students, parents or educators — wanting that. And such a drastic solution would only protect students in the buildings, not on their way to and from schools.

Next spring will mark the 10th anniversary of the murders at Columbine High School. Since then, there have been a host of other school attacks, and communities across the country have struggled with the issue of how to keep their students safe.

One frequently mentioned idea is metal detectors at school entrances. It came up again at the meeting in Montrose Tuesday. We certainly don’t discount that as a response. It’s an unfortunate fact that people today must pass through such devices to get on an airplane, enter many county courthouses and even visit the Colorado State Capitol. In each of those instances, the metal detectors were installed in response to violent attacks.

Still, we and many others would prefer it not come to that in schools. Alternatives such as visible ID tags and increased police presence in the schools would be our first choices.

Ultimately, however, Montrose school officials and their constituents will have to decide what is best for them. Principal Myers made an important first step in that direction with Tuesday evening’s meeting.


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