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EDITORIAL: Tragedy averted at William Penn

York City School District Superintendent Eric B. Holmes

Security can be a thankless business.

When you succeed, nothing happens.

No one is hurt.

No one is injured.

Normally, no one even knows that a dangerous situation existed in the first place.

When you fail, the news of the failure is typically stripped across newspaper front pages and leads the evening news telecasts.

Last Thursday, however, William Penn Senior High School had an unusual security situation – both a success and a failure that garnered some news headlines, but was not considered a major news event.

Success: Let's start with the successful part of the equation.

In the words of William Penn superintendent Eric Holmes, a potential “tragedy” was averted when a gun was found on school property.

Holmes credited effective security procedures with preventing a shooting. Thanks to a credible tip that there was a gun in a student's backpack, a school lockdown was put in place for more than two hours, before students were eventually dismissed when police determined there was no risk in releasing them.

Following the dismissal, school officials conducted an extensive search and eventually found the gun on school property.

A 16-year-old student is being charged with three separate gun possession charges.

The bottom line: The security system worked.

That's good news.

Failure: What wasn't such good news was the fact that a gun was brought onto school property in the first place.

Students are required to pass through metal detectors when entering the school. Despite that fact, a student was allegedly able to get a gun past existing security security measures and onto campus.

Holmes knows that shouldn't have happened and he said the school will investigate to “make sure it never happens that way again.”

Learning tool: This has the chance to be a invaluable learning situation for the York City School District security team. Officials can see what procedures worked and which ones need to be improved.

No security system will ever be completely foolproof. It's impossible to predict every possible scenario.

The most important thing, however, is to constantly learn and improve and do everything reasonably possible to make sure that tragedies are avoided.

Last Thursday, at William Penn Senior High School, a tragedy was avoided.

In the big picture, that should be considered an overall success.