tially violent confrontations. Administrators have also exhorted teachers to use the student support program as it was intended. If teachers are concerned about a student, they should tell someone. Likewise, school officials have talked to students about how important it is for them to come forward with information about a student who is acting in ways that disturb or worry them. The greater challenge, of course, is creating a climate in which students will actually feel safe in doing that.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Parker Middle School began to make changes in security around the school, including restricted building access and name badges for staff. Some experiments failed, such as using metal detector wands to check students before they entered the building; this only served to create long queues of students vulnerable to attack. To their credit, school officials tried not to overreact, which was difficult given the pressure placed on them by worried parents. After the shooting, the Catholic diocese in Erie County temporarily cancelled all school dances. In contrast, the General McLane School District avoided that step and still held the high school prom, although metal detector wands were used to screen students before they entered. Prior to the shooting, there was no policy to hire police officers for security, and that has remained the case. One positive development is that Parker’s end-of-year celebration for graduating eighth graders was revamped. The event is now held at the school and no longer has the trappings of a junior prom.
Over the next summer, the General McLane School District received recommendations from outside professional organizations, teachers, parents, and students, which were reviewed in a series of meetings and reports. The recommendations ran the gamut, from banning book bags and backpacks to creating a character education program. Ironically, few of the recommendations would have made a material difference in the Andrew Wurst case. Most of the focus was on school security rather than on creating a relationship-centered school environment in which every student is connected to a teacher or counselor, or on identifying students who may be “falling through the cracks” and need extra attention or professional help. Moreover, the security measures that were recommended were better suited for dealing with outside threats, not those from the student body.
There have also been efforts to get a program started to provide school resource officers, although these so far have not worked out. Erie County sheriff Robert Merski, for example, applied for a U.S. Department of Justice grant, for which the General McLane School District signed on as a partner. However, the Justice Department program will fund only the lead law enforcement agency, which in this case is not the sheriff’s office but the state police. In Edinboro, the police department applied for a