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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Super Carole goes all post-9/11 after boy disappears

Skyline School second-grader Kyron Horman has been missing from his Portland school for more than two days now, and the school district's superintendent is calling for better security measures there and at all the city's public schools. Today she writes:

Here is what we will put in place at Skyline elementary tomorrow:

* Our Crisis Response Team will be available to provide counseling support to Skyline students, staff and families all day on Monday and Tuesday. The school psychologist assigned to Skyline and Roosevelt High School will also be on site all day. Up to five professional counseling staff will be available in room 203 at Skyline.

* Two school resource officers will be in place to provide enhanced security at Skyline School.

Here are additional steps we are taking at Skyline and at all schools across the district:

* As of Monday, June 7, 2010, we are mandating the use of our automated attendance call system at every K-8 and K-5 school, so that families will be notified of any unexcused absence during the day the absence is recorded. (Because this policy is not currently in place at all schools, it may take a day or two to fully implement the automated system. Until the system is implemented, we are requiring schools that do not use the automated attendance system to call families directly when there is an unexcused absence.)

* We are re-emphasizing our existing policy requiring all school staff, contractors and volunteers to display their I.D. badges and for visitors to sign-in and wear name tags at every school, during school hours. Any visitors who refuse to sign-in and wear a name tag will be asked to leave.

* We have put in place a counseling hotline that is available to anyone who needs advice or support, in particular how to help children address the safety and emotional issues raised by this situation. That number will be staffed starting at 8:30 a.m. Monday morning. The phone number is: 503-916-3931.

* We are convening a team of school district leaders, including deputy superintendents, principals and school security services, as well as leaders of the Portland Association of Teachers, to review arrival and dismissal practices and identify ways we can ensure a smooth, well-coordinated transition of student supervision between families and teachers at the beginning and end of the school day.

As part of this effort, we will review our visitor sign-in practices for school events that invite large numbers of family members and community members into our schools.

Were all the grownups at the school signed in and wearing name tags on Friday morning? I'd be surprised if they were. But getting hard-core about that requirement now is going to be like the security theater that we go through at American airports. It's inconvenient, it's reassuring, and in the end, it's never going to be 100% effective against a determined kidnapper. (And that is not to say that there definitely was a kidnapper in the Horman case.)

Comments (13)

The kids need bar codes.

This is a most perplexing case, the child was not delivered to the front door, he was INSIDE and enroute to his classroom, if accounts are to be believed. Did someone get past the gatekeepers? Schools are and should be part of the larger community, and gating them off should not be considered. Yet this would be a case for doing just that.I do not envy PPS administration having to respond to this. My experience with PPS is that they are very concerned about student safety.. (hey, these are the zero-tolerance folks when a 6 yo brings a 1 inch GIJoe plastic knife to school). Should the schools be cement bunkers?
When this child is found, hopefully alive, hopefully well, some more solid answers will emerge. In the middle of a very public, very painful episode,it does not seem to be the time to be beating up on anyone, but instead praying and hoping and working to see a positive outcome. There will be time for examination later.

In the middle of a very public, very painful episode,it does not seem to be the time to be beating up on anyone, but instead praying and hoping and working to see a positive outcome. There will be time for examination later.


It just doesn't seem possible that this child was abducted from within the school.
If he was, his assailant would never have been deterred by a name tag policy. He would have just created his own name tag.

Name tags seem like nothing more than false reassurance that everything is perfectly safe. In fact, name-tags may be counter-productive. When people look officially tagged, regulars on the school grounds and other parents may be less likely to go up to someone who is unfamiliar to them and introduce themselves. Going up to someone you've never seen on your kid's school grounds before, and introducing yourself to them, is a great way to make them start acting suspicious, if they are up to no good.

I have a theory. We probably all have a theory. The facts will come out in time -- probably.

Something just isn't adding up here. Abduction by a stranger on NW Skyline? Of all the possible explanations for Kyron's disappearance, that seems like the least likely. So why is the district focused on what is essentially a non-threat?

Security cameras. Everybody going in or out has to smile and wave at the camera before getting their badge. Same with cars in the lot. Tapes kept a minimum of two weeks.

If it is what they fear, it wouldn't be the first time. There was a like incident at Kellogg some years ago.

First rule of kidnapping and homicide. Look at the family.

Is there a non-custodial mother or grandparents somewhere?

Much more likely than some pervert sneaking into the school and snatching the poor boy.

Right now there seem to be way more questions than answers.
What is the deal with the almost immediate FBI involvement?

Great, another solution AFTER the problem happens. Do these people not have one original anticipatory thought in their head? This is just as bad as 2 months of Obama saying how much BP is gonna pay while the oil escapes.

John D. there is a non custodial mother involved and my first suspicion too. One article said that as soon as she found out she drove in and has been here since. Take that as you may.

I was listening to the news and one of the ideas is using the automated notification system to inform parents if their kid isn't in school. The reporter said her kids school uses that system and they don't get notified until after school...System works just great.

There has been so much bad information around this story, it's hard to know what to make of anything. But it sounds like none of this would make a difference. The teacher seems to have thought the kid was still with the stepmom. These kinds of days are always crazy at any school, with grandparents and other family all over. At my daughter's school, it is common for kids to just do a half day, and go home with the family.
Whatever happened here, it was the stepmother's responsibility to turn the kid over to a teacher. There is much to go off on the schools for, but this just isn't the time.
Now the police, spending days looking for an 8 year old who went "hiking" in this weather without his coat or backpack is another matter entirely. It's like Chief Wiggum is running the place.

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