Eyeing school board security in wake of FL shooting - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Eyeing school board security in wake of FL shooting

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WATERLOO (KWWL)-- It was a terrifying scene during a Panama City, Florida school board meeting Tuesday night.  A gunman stood up during the meeting and began spray painting the back wall, then pulled a gun and began firing rounds.  At one point, a female school board member hit the gunman over the head with her purse.  After being confronted by a school security officer, the shooter took his own life, and no one else was injured.  And the horrifying incident may be sparking a dialogue about security measures at school board meetings.

If there's a hot topic before the Waterloo school board, like the ongoing dress code debate, you can bet that the meeting room will be full and often people will come to the podium to make their concerns known.

"In my experience, people can have very strong opinions.  They come and they express those.  But they're responsible and mature adults with differing opinions, and we can respect that," Sharon Miller with the Waterloo Community Schools said.

Several years ago, security officers used to stand post outside Waterloo school board meetings, but that's not the case any more.  In the district's history, officials can't recall a time when vocal concerns turned violent.  However, the Florida school board shooter is certainly cause for concern.

"You can never guarantee absolute security, especially if someone is willing to take their own life as the Florida man did," Miller said.

Still, the situation may be sparking a discussion about how to approach security at school meetings.

"It does make you think about other kinds of situations that could develop, and to make plans and do as much as we can to first of all prevent, but then also to respond effectively," said Miller.

The Waterloo Community School district says the best option going forward is to keep its specific security measures under wraps as not to tip off any would-be trouble makers should a worst-case scenario unfold.

While the district won't disclose their specific security measures, it says it does conduct training drills about how to respond to crisis situations.

As in the Florida case, it can be tough to pinpoint just when there might be a security concern at any public meeting.  Officials in Panama City say the exact motive of the shooter there remains unclear, but some anti-government sentiments were found written in his home.

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek

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