MORETOWN — A sheriff was placed at Harwood Union Middle and High School on Wednesday because a restraining order was issued against a former student, said the chairman of the school’s board, Chris Koliba.
While the precaution came soon after 20 elementary students and six adults were killed Dec. 14 in a school shooting in Newtown, Conn., Harwood officials said around half a dozen restraining orders are obtained in the school district as a whole every school year.
The school’s administration briefed board members about the situation on Dec. 19 and again Wednesday during the regular board meeting, Koliba said Thursday.
An email was sent to the school community informing parents, staff and faculty of the sheriff’s presence.
Koliba said Wednesday’s school board briefing was for information sharing, advice seeking, and “pulse taking” of community sentiment on how to best handle these kinds of situations.
“We got into a conversation: In this post-Newtown era, what’s the new normal?” Koliba said.
Superintendent Brigid Scheffert said the details of the restraining order could not be released.
A restraining order had been issued, and the person in question was later confirmed as being located out of state, Scheffert said. When Scheffert verified that information Wednesday, she said, she decided the sheriff was no longer needed.
On Dec. 19 and again Wednesday, the board went into executive session, both times for a “student disciplinary matter.” Koliba said both discussions were related to the same incident. The first meeting was to address when the incident first came to light, he said.
Koliba said the executive session was the beginning of a discussion the board plans to address during regular session.
Board member Dale Smeltzer said she thought the email to the community was a means of increasing communication in the wake of the Newtown tragedy.
Last year, a similar incident occurred in the district when a sheriff’s department employee was in place for three to five days because a parent was issued a restraining order for making threats, said Scheffert.
The sheriff’s office was involved until court proceedings could occur and safety could be ensured, Scheffert said.
“It’s not unusual to have a sheriff detail, especially at a high school, at the point you have what looks like a volatile situation in someone’s family or outside in the community,” Scheffert said.
In the wake of Newtown, school districts across Vermont and the nation have been re-examining security measures and policies to ensure students and school employees are protected.
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