Pawtucket Schools Superintendent Deborah Cylke said she experienced some of what the Sandy Hook Elementary School parents had gone through herself several years ago while working as an assistant superintendent in her former school district in Nevada.
She remembered getting a call about a student firing a gun inside a middle school and it happened to be the one that her son attended. “My son was in the 7th grade at the time. We had 100 schools in the district,” said Cylke. No one was seriously hurt and the gunman was apprehended, but Cylke said she remembered the agonizing wait for her and the other parents for their children to be released from the school following the lockdown and police search of the building.
Cylke recalled how scared her own son had been by that incident and said that watching the news about Friday's tragedy brought those painful memories back to her. “We all have a sense of responsibility to our students. I don't think there was one person who didn't cry when watching that on TV,” she said.
Yet, Cylke said that while a tragic episode such as this makes everyone—students, teachers, principals and parents--feel vulnerable, “school is still the safest place for a child. You have to put it in perspective and realize that something like this is extremely rare, thank God.”