Teachers union says staff at Sandy Hook School felt rushed - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Teachers union says staff at Sandy Hook School felt rushed to return to work

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Tom Kuroski, who is a president of the Newtown Federation of Teachers, spoke to the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission. Tom Kuroski, who is a president of the Newtown Federation of Teachers, spoke to the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission.
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB/AP) -

The commission meant to recommend changes of everything from school safety to mental health help met Friday in Hartford. 

The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission heard a presentation from Tom Kuroski, president of the Newtown Federation of Teachers, in the Legislative Office Building around 10 a.m. 

"My thought was if this happened in my community and I had a child in the school system I'd be home with them," Kuroski said.

He said the teachers felt rushed back to the classroom after the shooting.

"I think the desire to move forward as quickly as possible, that people lost track of what was going on," Kuroski said.

For teachers in Newtown, Monday was spent in mental health counseling and on Tuesday, it was back to school for everyone except teachers and students of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

"You can imagine what this did, when that email went out I was inundated with calls from staff in the district, concerned," Kuroski said.

Kuroski said other school districts that have experienced similar events gave their teachers time to get thorough training to help returning children.

He said a "one-day workshop, where our input wasn't even listened to, was not something that we thought was moving us in the right direction."

Kuroski said the first signs the recovery wasn't going smoothly came during the planning phase. 

"The first concern was everybody was in a state of mass confusion on that day, there were initial meetings that were scheduled to begin to address how to move forward that Friday evening," Kuroski said. "All the stakeholders that should have been represented at that meeting and should have been there were not there, including myself."

Kuroski said teachers hurriedly went back to school anyway because they didn't want to let their students down. 

"We all came together and we shared with the administration that we didn't think we were ready to start school on Tuesday, after this incident," Kuroski said. "But the feeling was the kids had to get in because it would not be good for them to be home."

Kuroski also said he was concerned that federal funding for school security didn't come until recently. However, he praised the availability of mental health services for teachers.

The panel also heard from Vincent Riccio, owner of the Security Academy of Connecticut. Riccio's business specializes in active shooter prevention training and security consulting for schools and other places.

Gov. Dannel Malloy tasked the 16-member panel with reviewing current policies in the wake of the shooting at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School in December of 2012. Twenty-six students and staff were killed by a gunman.

"We all had a moral response to that tragedy and I think some of these reports, they can tend toward the intellectual which I think we need to stake the moral ground on this," said Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson, chairman of Sandy Hook Advisory Commission. "We're recommending these things because they are right, because they will help our communities."

The commission will make recommendations in the areas of public safety, specifically school safety, mental health and gun violence prevention.

The commission's final report to the governor should be ready in six weeks.

More information about it can be found at its website here.

Copyright 2014 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.