Former Newtown school superintendent visits Alabama

Dr. Joseph Erardi shared lessons learned from the shooting massacre

Former Newtown school superintendent visits Alabama
Dr. Joseph Erardi recounted the heart wrenching stories from the massacre to an Alabama audience and explained how he thinks schools can be made safer. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Nearly six years have passed since 20 children and six adults were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Friday, a former school superintendent of Newtown schools visited Alabama to share lessons that were learned after the tragedy that stunned a nation.

“If it could happen in Newtown, it could happen in any town across this country,” said Dr. Joseph Erardi.

Nearly 100 university faculty members and construction companies filled a room in Montgomery as Erardi recounted the heart-wrenching stories from the massacre.

Erardi’s visit came to the Alabama Facilities Directors and Constructors Conference as an effort to help make Alabama schools safer. He says schools need to install classroom doors that lock on the inside and put numbers on the outside of every window so law enforcement knows exactly where to go in case of a situation. And he believes it’s vital for schools to build relationships with law enforcement.

Erardi emphasized mental health and that the community needs to know which students or teachers are struggling.

He also told school leaders they have to create a safety plan that incorporates not only teachers but custodial staff.

“Everyone needs to realize that a safety plan is never ever complete," the former school leader said. "You’re in trouble if you believe your plan is complete. Thus it’s always a work in motion, and you need to be an integral part of it.”

Erardi spoke at a conference for construction companies, but how does that relate to school security? Well, the companies that attended build security features like cameras and doors and there has been a push for those businesses to start sharing their security ideas with schools.

“One of the highlights that the contractors talked about at the conference is students scanning in and out, a lot of barriers for stadiums. And we’ve also talked about glass, there’s a lot you can do with glassing that can actually protect the students while they’re inside,” said Jay Reed, president of the Associated Builders and Contractors.

Some companies even work with local law enforcement before constructing.

“We specifically brought police officers in, showed them our drawings, talked to them,” said Tyce Hudson with Turner Construction Company.

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