Principals from schools impacted by gun violence write open letter to lawmakers

A dove flies over Frank DeAngelis, who was principal of Columbine High School, as he reads the names of the students who died.

A dove flies over Frank DeAngelis, who was principal of Columbine High School during the attack 20 years ago, as he reads the names of the students who died during a program for the victims of the massacre Saturday, April 20, 2019, in Littleton, Colo. Twenty-one principals who have experienced gun violence tragedies at their respective high schools and middle schools called on elected officials at all levels of government “to do everything it takes to prevent our kids and educators from being murdered in school.”

David Zalubowski, Associated Press

Twenty-one principals who have experienced gun violence tragedies at their respective high schools and middle schools called on elected officials at all levels of government “to do everything it takes to prevent our kids and educators from being murdered in school.”

The principals issued an open letter on Friday through the National Association of Secondary School Principals explaining that they are members of a club that no one wants to join.

“Yet, our membership keeps growing,” the principals wrote in the wake of the latest mass shooting, this time in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed by an 18-year-old gunman, who was shot and killed by a federal officer.

The letter said in part, “We are the Principal Recovery Network, a group of school leaders who have lived through shootings at each of our schools. We constantly relive one of the worst days of our lives because we have taken it upon ourselves to reach out to principals who have experienced a shooting at their schools and help them navigate a path we all unfortunately have been down.”

The massacre in south Texas was the 27th school shooting this year and one of hundreds since the massacre at Colorado’s Columbine High School 23 years ago, the letter continues.

“These horrific acts have compelled us to speak out. They compel us to act,” it states.

“To every elected leader at every level of government, you have a duty to do everything it takes to prevent our kids and educators from being murdered in school. Time and time again, we have come to you to prevent future shootings. If you don’t act now, this will happen again,” the letter states.

The letter, to be published as a full-page ad in Sunday’s Washington Post, implores, “We beg you: Do something. Do anything. This is a bipartisan issue. Protect our students. Protect our educators. Protect our schools. Violence extends well beyond our campuses. We ask you to act and to do the right thing — protect our communities.”

The signatories of the letter include:

  • Michael Bennett, former assistant principal, Columbia High School, East Greenbush, New York.
  • Elizabeth Brown, principal, Forest High School, Ocala, Florida.
  • Frank DeAngelis, former principal, Columbine High School, Littleton, Colorado.
  • Lauren Ford, former principal, Procter R. Hug High School, Reno, Nevada.
  • Andy Fetchik, former principal, Chardon High School, Chardon, Ohio.
  • Denise Fredericks, principal, Townville Elementary School, Townville, South Carolina.
  • Kathleen Gombos, principal, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut.
  • Patricia Greer, former principal, Marshall County High School, Benton, Kentucky.
  • Warman Hall, former principal, Aztec High School, Aztec, New Mexico.
  • Jake Heibel, principal, Great Mills High School, Great Mills, Maryland.
  • Matthew Hicks, former assistant principal, Noblesville West Middle School, Noblesville, Indiana.
  • Greg Johnson, principal, West Liberty-Salem High School, West Liberty, Ohio.
  • Michelle Kefford, principal, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida.
  • Andy McGill, assistant principal, West Liberty-Salem High School, West Liberty, Ohio.
  • Kevin Lein, former principal, Harrisburg High School, Harrisburg, South Dakota.
  • Jeff Meisenheimer, principal, Lee’s Summit North High School, Lee’s Summit, Missouri.
  • George Roberts, former principal, Perry Hall High School, Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Ryan Rollinger, principal, Harrisburg High School, Harrisburg, South Dakota.
  • Michael Sedlak, former assistant principal, Chardon High School, Chardon, Ohio.
  • Ty Thompson, former principal, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida.
  • Stacey Ting, principal, Sparks Middle School, Sparks, Nevada.

Marjorie Cortez

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