Free community forum to focus on school safety

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Updated: 2/18/2014 6:28 pm
SPARKS, Nev. ( & KRNV) -- There is a powerful push in the community to search for answers in the aftermath of the tragic shooting at Sparks Middle School last fall.

Now, a broad-based coalition of community leaders is behind a special forum that wants to engage the entire community. A big gathering is planned for March 13 that will focus on preventing school violence.

The thought is to stop something like this from happening again. If you're a parent, grandparent or simply looking for answers, you are going to want to mark your calender and attend this free community event.

Last fall's shooting at Sparks Middle School left many asking questions, and unfortunately, still searching for answers.

"There's a few things you always remember that are milestones in your life, things like the day President Kennedy was killed, 9-11 and now another one is added for me, is the day this happened over in Sparks."

In announcing this initiative, Perry Di Loreto explained that this upcoming community forum is a quest for knowledge and to offer insight. The event will feature Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman, a scholar and co-author of the book, "Stop Teaching Our Kids To Kill: A Call To Action Against TV, Movie and Video Game Violence."

Grossman is internationally recognized as one of the world's foremost experts. Washoe County's School Police say they, and others, have used Grossman's book as a resource. "He knows his stuff. He knows what he's talking about," said Washoe County School Police Chief Mike Mieras. "He does a great presentation and really, like they said, it is to get that information out and to start that conversation."

That is what this coalition is hoping to spark, the start of a community-wide conversation. "I challenge the community, you support us all the time, come down and spend a couple of hours giving your suggestions on this," said Reno Police Chief Steve Pitts. "Because its very important to our community."

Reno Mayor Bob Cashell said that the community could learn a lot. "It could give them one little hint of something their kids are doing that they could really start to work on before something tragic happens."

"Time and again, something goes down, something happens," District Attorney Richard Gammick said. "People are oh, I knew he had this or he made threats or he did this or he did that and it's too late."

"The result of this is that we have children going to school in fear," Di Loreto said. "They don't necessarily feel they're in a safe place. I guess that next to the worst thing to being in school hungry, is being in school and being afraid."

The event will be held in the Mount Rose Ballroom of the Reno-Sparks Convention Center from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. on March 13. It is free and everyone is invited.

The Nevada Military Support Alliance will also honor Master Sergeant and teacher Michael Landsberry, one of the victims of the Sparks shooting.
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