Meeting Will Bring Together Public Safety, Education Boards March 28

Wellington’s Education Committee and Public Safety Committee will hold a joint meeting on Wednesday, March 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the Wellington Community Center. The two committees are coming together to engage in important conversation regarding safety in Wellington schools.

The meeting, which was originally scheduled to take place in the beginning of March, will have an agenda focusing on school safety, bullying and student altercations inside and outside of school grounds.

Although the special joint meeting between the two committees was planned before the deadly shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, the meeting’s agenda has been altered from its original emphasis on bullying and student altercations to include school safety.

Education Committee liaison Ed De La Vega explained that the two committees both wanted the presence and input of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and the Palm Beach County School District Police Department in order to collaborate and discuss ways that the village and local law enforcement can come together to make the everyday lives of Wellington’s children, teachers and school administrators safer while in school.

The meeting is expected to include discussion about enhanced safety measures and procedures projected to take effect in Wellington schools, as well as additional safety precautions that could be implemented in schools in order to prevent a shooting from taking place at a Wellington school.

“The original intent for the joint meeting was not to discuss Parkland, but that conversation is happening everywhere,” De La Vega said. “So, if the topic does come up, the right people will be present to discuss it.”

Along with members of the two committees, principals and teachers from surrounding schools, the PBSO Behavioral Sciences Unit and Palm Beach County School District police officers will be present at the meeting to share information and be part of the conversation.

Since the Parkland shooting occurred in a neighboring county, Wellington Mayor Anne Gerwig hopes that the meeting’s dialogue will center on the different precautions that local schools are taking to avoid anything similar from happening locally.

“The conversation on school safety and gun control is a very sensitive topic, but we need to look at what we can and have to do to prevent something like Parkland happening here,” Gerwig said. “The conversation is happening, and it is important.”

Gerwig expanded on the importance of securing school entryways and the necessity to analyze the actual design layout of each school, in order to narrow down single entry points.

“It’s important to talk about how differently our schools were built, as they were built in significantly different time frames,” she said. “Wellington High School is built completely different from Palm Beach Central High School. It will be interesting to see how the people who know our schools will analyze the problem [of each school’s design] and identify red flags in order to prevent anything from happening. I believe that it will come down to looking at every school individually.”

Gerwig emphasized not only the importance of keeping local children safe at school, but also the importance of keeping some of the county’s most valued employees safe at work.

Gerwig is proud of the Public Safety Committee’s initiative to talk about and bring about change to Wellington schools.

“The Public Safety Committee has been very productive in their last few meetings; they have really taken initiative on their own. I’m excited about the joint meeting with the Education Committee because our kids are so important,” Gerwig explained.

According to De La Vega, the meeting agenda will also include discussion on other pressing school safety topics, such as ways in which to more adequately and safely direct traffic at schools. De La Vega said that this is also an important topic, as incidents putting pedestrians in danger at local schools have occurred.

Public input is welcomed and encouraged at committee meetings. The Education Committee will also hold its regular meeting preceding the joint meeting at 5:30 p.m.

The Wellington Community Center is located at 12150 W. Forest Hill Blvd.

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