Branford Board of Education chairman Michael Krause publicly took responsibility this month for a failure by the Branford schools system to hold regular safety drills as mandated by the state.

“I am going to take ownership that I and the Board were not overseeing the number of drills, etc. in our schools,” he told the Board. “It has not been a practice in our school district for years since drills are handled by the administration, but yes, we should be monitoring and going forward this will be done.”

Krause stated that he and superintendent Hamlet Hernandez have met on the issue, and going forward, the superintendent will give a monthly update on drills that have been done, and an annual spreadsheet on drills performed by each school. In addition, security guards added added Walsh and a vacant position at the high school will be filled. Krause stated he has met with police on the integrated video surveillance systems, and a new application will allow real time dissemination of information.

Krause also stated that the district is looking at potential redesign of the front corridors at the high school an Indian Neck School, and is looking at new door locks.

Safety in the schools became front and center after the Parkland shooting in Florida. Parents asked at meeting why so few safety drills had been performed; many parents posted on social media that their children stated there were few drills performed.

Documents confirmed the claims and concerns of parents.

In a spreadsheet detailing the drills by school provide by the Superintendents office, it is clear many months are incomplete, and actual drills taking place is hit-or-miss. As recent as January of this year, none of the Branford schools recorded any drills. In February and March, 4 of the 5 schools listed had drills.

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According to state law, a fire drill is mandated to take place monthly in each school. Once every three months, the fire drills can be replaced with a crisis response drill.

The law also states that Board of Education shall establish a school security and safety committee at each school and this would include various professionals and includes parents.

Hernandez has stated that each school does have a safety committee sometimes including parents, and that it is not considered a public body.

Krause stated that the district has sent a new safety plan to the state for feedback, and is waiting for a reply.

(21) comments

Guest

So we have been breaking the law and putting our children at risk because we dont want to do drills or dont see the importance of this? I would assume that someone has been reporting we are doing them and that is clearly a lie. While it is absolutely the schools job to do these and the superintendents to ensure that our children are safe it does call to question why the police and fire department (who would have to be notified since the alarms would go off) are not holding the schools accountable. Very questionable why our emergency response people in town are not ensuring this happens and questioning the superintendent as well as the schools. Extremely disappointing in everyone who is supposed to care about the children in this town!

Guest

$193,000 plus bonus and counting.......

Guest

There has also been 2 security breaches, former students entering the school. One entered 2 weeks after a threat was made by a former student. Parents were only notified of one breach and that’s only because the news leaked it. I’ve walked in the school about 3 times after these breaches with no problems, no one said a word to me just buzzed me right in. Of course they are not doing drills, they dropped the ball on bigger issues.

Guest

Who is responsible for execution of these drills? Who is responsible for confirming they are complete? Does the Board of Education, Superintendent, local fire or police, or State require "the confirmations of the same" to be sent to them or recorded as such? If so, who signed off on these and were they sent? Did the "confirmations" of the same represent the actual schedule of drills followed? Why was none of this picked up by anyone? Life Safety has to be the number one priority, correct? Odd at best!

Gregg Jerolman

Chairman Krause went the extra mile to give Hernandez a raise that was CERTAINLY not needed or justified, and showed just how truly out-of-touch this man is. If he spent more time on issues of substance, and less on more political issues, our schools would be FAR better off... What an unnecessary risk we have taken, which is also a complete embarrassment to our town.

gobballfan

If it is the job of the superintendent to make sure the school principals are getting the drills done, and Hamlet is the one who is supposed to sign off on the reports sent to the State of CT, why is it not Hamlet up there apologizing for not doing his job? Well, if you know how this BOE works, you already know the answer. I only wish the chairman and most of the other board members showed the same displeasure with Hamlet as they do with parents asking questions.

Guest

This Board of Education has never asked important questions of Mr. Hernandez. What a shame!!!! Mr. Hernandez is the highest paid employee in this town and we have a board who refuses to ask the tough questions! This board has chosen to accept what ever Mr. Hamlet has to say to them. I have never seen a conversation where this board, MR. Krause has questioned the superintendent. Why is this Mr. Krause?

Guest

Drills are not enough, schools should not be evacuated during a shooter situation. Shatter proof glass should be installed, and metal bars used to secure classroom doors.

gobballfan

Agreed. And an armed security/police officer in every school. North Branford has them. See attached https://www.zip06.com/news/20180316/north-branfords-armed-school-security-officers-on-the-job-since-2013 . I was let right into the high school this week. No one asked name or purpose, and I purposely turned away from door so no one could see my face. But they did give me a visitor pass. I'm sure an intruder with bad intentions will be waiting for his or her visitor pass.

Sailsalot

The entire Board of Education is responsible for this failure. Hamlet and his minions must all be replaced.

Guest

Why would Mr.Krause take responsibility for the lack of monthly safety drills when there is clear written policy, in multiple sections of the BPS policy which notes EXACTLY who is responsible, and that is the principle of each school and or the superintendent, depending which section you read. Why wouldn't the chairman enforce the existing policies already adopted, instead of adding it to the BOE responsibilities, granted they are ultimately responsible for seeing that all policy is followed. Collectively you have [5] principles and [1] superintendent who are responsible for the drills / documentation / reporting per existing policy, and whose salaries when added together, and combined with benefits, are close to 1 million dollars. So why not start there with getting the district back into compliance with not only their own policies, but the state statutes regarding fire drills as well.

Guest

The last approved contract for Hernandez was only for a year,maybe they are building a case to not renew again.Hamlet doesn't listen and dumbs down parent complaints.Wasn't he promised a big job in the pension union by former head of the Board?Branford can do better,I am sure there is some impressive talent out there who could better serve in this position,better yet how about a voucher system?

gobballfan

You are giving this Board way too much credit to think they are building a case against Hamlet. They are the least pro-active bunch you will ever find. The whole issue of drills was not even on anyone's radar until a parent brought it to their attention. Hamlet wasn't doing his job, and the Board didn't even know they should be checking to see if he was doing his job.

Guest

The board approved a year extension of Hamlets contract they do it each year as a sign of confidence. His contract is 3 years, each year they add a year on as a sign that they feel he is doing well and should have confidence he will be here for 3 years.

Guest

This is the tip of the iceberg. Trust but verify.
The chair is an enabler for the superintendent. The children are an afterthought. Their motivation is power and deceit. The real story for some hard charging journalist is to uncover the COMPLETE fraud that is the superintendent and the board of education. LIe after lie after lie. The schools, students, teachers and staff suffer. Although folks are leaving and will continue to leave. Sad for the fine town of Branford and the students.

Guest

The rats are jumping off the ship. As evidenced by Anthony Buono, who is looking out for numero uno

Guest

Parents can file formal complaints with the State Board of Education and the Federal Education Department,go the chain of command.The State Boards stock answer is your local BOE is in charge and you are not.Safety is a very hot issue right now,so you will be heard at the Federal level.Do it as a group so the retribution will be minimal for your child.

gobballfan

It's crazy how ridiculous that post sounds. We have to go up the chain of command to get the BOE to listen and do what is right and their job to do. And we need to do it as a group so that that there is no retribution on one kid. Unfortunately, it is a reality as most of the BOE members are only there for the power trip and to hear themselves talk.

Guest

That post may sound ridiculous but it is true.I know from experience.Changing grades,if you are an athlete,you are at a bigger risk,watch to make sure requested college paperwork is submitted on time by the guidance dept.Ask questions and keep a watchful eye.

Guest

Folks, lets not get too negative here. I'm sure if each of you spoke to General Hernandez and shared your concerns, he would give them the time and attention they need and deserve, right? :)

Guest

Notice how this news is getting swept under the rug?

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