Columbine: 10 Years Later - American School Board Journal

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Transcript Columbine: 10 Years Later - American School Board Journal

Columbine: 10 Years Later
What They Experienced, What We Can Learn
Columbine: 10 Years Later
What They Experienced,
What We Can Learn
Presented by the editors of American School Board Journal
School Counselor Association
editors of
American School Board Journal
and the American School Counselor Association
On the morning of April 20, 1999, two students
walked into Columbine High School. They were
carrying an arsenal of automatic weapons.
One hour later, 12 students were dead and a teacher
was fatally wounded. The shooters — Columbine
seniors Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold — committed
suicide in the school’s library.
Ten years later, Columbine is still the deadliest crime
ever committed in an American K-12 school.
This Month in ASBJ
May’s edition of American
School Board Journal
features an oral history of
the Columbine tragedy,
compiled and edited by
Kathleen Vail.
The article will be available
soon on the ASBJ website
at and at the
ASCA website:
Today’s Speakers
Jane Hammond, former superintendent, Jefferson
County Public Schools
Sandy Austin, counselor, Jefferson County Public
Rick Kaufman, former public information officer
Jane Barnes, member and former president,
Jefferson County Public Schools Board of Education
What We Asked Our
Speakers to Address
What stands out most to
you about that day and the
days after?
Is there anything you wish
you had known beforehand
that would have helped you
to do your job better?
What lessons do you hope
that the webinar's viewers/
listeners would take from
today's session?
According to a 2002 report by the U.S. Secret Service and U.S.
Department of Education, school shooters follow no set profile.
Most, however, were depressed and felt like they were being
persecuted. Also, they usually tell other kids about their plans.
Over the past 10 years, more than 80 school shootings have
occurred in the U.S., according to Dave Cullen’s new book,
Columbine. However, as Cullen reports, "no significant national
gun-control legislation was enacted in response” to the shootings.
According to a 2008 study in the Yale Law and Policy Review, at
least eight states have passed new laws that give residents the
right to carry concealed handguns or changed the law to make it
more difficult to deny gun permits.
Speaker: Jane Hammond
Jane Hammond is the former superintendent of
Colorado’s Jefferson County Public Schools,
the largest school district in the state with
85,000 students. She left the district in 2002
to work for the Stupski Foundation and now
runs her own consulting firm, Results-Based
While in Jefferson County, Hammond was cited
for leadership that resulted in significant
increases in student achievement, community
support for the district, improved staff morale,
and teacher satisfaction. She helped the
district attain ISO 9000 Certification and
worked with the school board to implement policy governance.
Now as a consultant, Hammond works in long-term relationships with school districts on
district transformation and improvement.
From the ASBJ story…
Strangers come up and tell me, ‘I
know where I was that day.’ That is
monumental. Usually when people
talk about it, I remember I was in
fourth grade when JFK died, and we
sat down and prayed the rosary. It’s
hard to comprehend; we became a
piece of history.
Principal Frank DeAngelis
Columbine High School
Speaker: Sandy Austin
Sandy Austin is a school counselor at Jefferson County’s
Green Mountain High School. She responded to the
tragedy at Columbine on April 20 and counseled in
the drop-in center and Columbine feeder schools
throughout the week after the tragedy. The summer
after the shootings, she also worked at Ken Caryl
Middle School and the S.H.O.U.T.S. teen center in
the Columbine community for two days a week.
Austin has written three books and numerous articles
and has presented workshops across the country on
crisis response. Among other leadership positions,
she has served twice as the president of the
Colorado School Counselor Association. Last fall,
CSCA named Austin as the “High School Counselor
of the Year” for the state of Colorado.
No federal data is available on how many school shooting
attempts have been foiled over the past decade, but the number
of rampage-style attacks has decreased significantly. One
reason, experts say, is because more students are taking their
classmates’ threats seriously and reporting them to adults.
Girls are more likely to report threats, research shows, and far
less likely to pull the trigger. Since 1974, only one girl has
participated in a non-gang related school shooting.
Jeff Daniels, a counseling psychologist at West Virginia
University, says schools that foiled rampage killings share a few
key qualities: informal, respectful contact between staff and
students; students knowing they could turn to an adult if danger
surfaced; staff taking rumors seriously; and anti-bullying programs
with staff training.
Speaker: Rick Kaufman
Rick Kaufman, the former executive director of communications for
Jefferson County Public Schools, now serves executive director of
community relations for Minnesota’s Bloomington Public Schools,
where he is responsible for directing the district’s communications
and community relations programs. A nationally respected consultant
on crisis management and communications, media relations, and
community engagement, he now serves as Bloomington’s chief
spokesperson and communications counsel to the superintendent,
school board, and the district’s leadership team.
Kaufman was one of the first school personnel to arrive at Columbine after the attack
began. He was responsible for coordinating all aspects of the communications
program, including chief spokesperson, media relations, community response and
recovery efforts.
Since Columbine, he has provided media relations and crisis management counsel and
training to numerous state and federal agencies. He also is the author of the newly
revised Crisis Communications and Management Manual published by the National
School Public Relations Association in 2009.
‘Communication Changes’
When the unthinkable happens, school districts without a fulltime public relations professional to advise them are at a
distinct disadvantage. In the post-Columbine era, sound
communications counsel is as vital to school and district
success as academic and legal counsel. Wise
communicators know that it only takes one misstep during
a crisis to destroy a lifetime of trust.
by Nora Carr, ASBJ columnist
and 25-year school PR professional, April 2009
Speaker: Jane Barnes
Jane Barnes is currently serving on the Jefferson County
Board of Education where she served as president
for four years. On the board since 2003, she also is
past president of the Colorado Association of School
In her board role, Barnes has helped the district navigate
many of the issues resulting from the Columbine
tragedy. Believing that education and workplace
success are intertwined, Jane serves as the chair of
the Tri-County Workforce Investment Board and was
recently appointed by Governor Ritter to serve on
the Colorado Workforce Development Council.
Barnes also is the manager of senior programs for St.
Anthony Hospitals where she has planned,
developed, and implemented many community
outreach programs to benefit older adults.
From the ASBJ story…
We are a completely different district
than we were 10 years ago. We’ve
had huge turnover in 10 years.
Many teachers have retired and
there’s been a lot of turnover in
leadership staff. Lots of people don’t
remember Columbine as a personal
experience — historical, but not
personal. You go into Columbine
and see memories of the children,
but the children there now are a new
generation. We have a different staff
and focus. But Columbine will
always be at our core.
— Cindy Stevenson,
Current Superintendent
American School Board Journal is the award-winning,
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monthly by the National School Boards Association.
Founded in 1891, ASBJ chronicles change, interprets
issues, and offers readers practical advice on a broad
range of topics pertinent to school governance and
management, policy making, student achievement, and
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About the
The American School Counselor Association (ASCA)
helps approximately 25,000 school counselors guide their
students toward academic achievement, personal and
social development, and career planning to help today’s
students become tomorrow’s productive, contributing
members of society. ASCA developed The National
Standards for School Counseling Programs and the ASCA
National Model: A Framework for School Counseling
Programs, which provide guidelines for designing and
implementing comprehensive, developmental school
counseling programs. ASCA also maintain ethics standards
for school counselors and position statements addressing a
variety of issues. For more information about ASCA, visit