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Niagara Falls superintendent, police chief to talk school security in TV speech

The men in charge of education and public safety in Niagara Falls will answer the public's questions about school security in a live cable television appearance next week.

Niagara Falls School Superintendent Mark R. Laurrie. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)

School Superintendent Mark R. Laurrie and Police Superintendent E. Bryan DalPorto will appear at 7 p.m. Monday on the Our Schools Channel, which is Channel 21 on Spectrum Cable. The studio is in Niagara Falls High School, but there will not be a studio audience.

Instead, Laurrie and DalPorto will answer questions emailed to the office of Laurrie's secretary at pfelton@nfschools.net, using "School Safety" as a subject line. Questions can be emailed in advance of the speech.

"I'll stay on the air as long as it takes to answer them," Laurrie said Wednesday.

He and DalPorto have been touring Niagara Falls schools this week, including Catholic schools, to check out their security measures in the wake of the school shooting in Florida Feb. 14 that killed 17 students and staff.

"We have found the standard lockout procedures in place are being followed," DalPorto said.

Although the inspections haven't turned up any serious security lapses, Laurrie said the issue of school safety is - for the time being - on the public's mind.

"Something's going to move this off the front page," Laurrie said. "The key to this is stamina."

Tuesday, two Niagara Falls elementary school students were disciplined when they were seen carrying what turned out to be a BB gun near Harry F. Abate Elementary School. A parent saw them discard the weapon on Willow Avenue and reported it.

"I've been saying, 'If you see something, say something,' " Laurrie said. "What I should have been saying is, 'If you see something, say something. Don't post something.' "

Niagara Falls High School was in a tizzy Wednesday morning over a ninth-grader's Facebook post about a possible school shooting. Laurrie said after the boy was tracked down, he said he was referring to an online rumor the day before in North Tonawanda.

"The boy thought he was doing the right thing," Laurrie said. "He turned the media and educational system of Niagara Falls on its ear for a day."

The Niagara County Sheriff's Office this week has lodged charges of making false threats against students at Newfane, Starpoint and the Orleans-Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services in Cambria.

In a statement about the Wednesday morning scare in Niagara Falls, a district spokeswoman said, "Niagara Falls Police have provided extra personnel at schools for as long as it may be appropriate. The district and police will continue to investigate any hint of trouble at any time; better to investigate numerous false rumors than to fail to investigate any single one. There is no cause for concern; we are merely doing our due diligence for the safety of students and staff."

 

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