also a large majority who think that it can be carried too far and greater disciplinary leeway needs to be allowed.
Westside has also increased the attention paid to troubled or isolated children in the school. Along with several other schools in the area, Westside has been the beneficiary of a Federal Safe Schools/Healthy Students Grant, which has provided additional social workers and full-time counselors for the school. One counselor and one social worker cover the elementary and high schools, while another counselor and social worker cover the middle school. Counselors are available to meet with students who are referred to them for behavioral problems or therapy by teachers or administrators, and they meet with some students on an ongoing basis. The social workers make home visits to parents, help provide them with services or information if they are unable to come into the school, and teach students character education, like building social skills, anger management, and coping with bullying.
Needless to say, the shooting was the most traumatizing experience ever suffered by the Westside community. From the very beginning, they have had to contend with shock, grief, frustration, lack of privacy, and for the families of Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden, shame, remorse, and the sense that they had been judged in the court of public opinion as parental failures. There is no normalcy to be found in the aftermath of such a difficult experience, and yet somehow people have to keep working and children have to go to school.
For the teachers and administrators at Westside, the highest priority initially was to tend to the children’s needs. The evening of the shooting, as counselors met and talked with parents, children, and teachers in the gymnasium, an open meeting of about 75–100 people was held in the school cafeteria to discuss a plan for what type of counseling should be offered next. The decision was made to invite members of the National Organization of Victim Assistance (NOVA) into the community to help with the counseling and provide guidance in what people can expect in dealing with the emotional fallout of an event like this. The following day, classes were canceled for students, but teachers were asked to come in. Teachers were divided up into small groups to talk about their experiences and be debriefed on the kinds of behaviors they could expect from their students. The following day, when students returned, counselors and other volunteers were brought into all the classrooms to explain what happened and why they were there, and to open up a conversation about how the students were feeling. Specialists in counseling were also available in the school libraries, and students having serious problems could