Former Tredyffrin Police Chief will be paid $125 hour to conduct a security/safety audit for the Tredyffrin School District.
District Superintendent Dr. Dan Waters first announced his decision to hire Chambers during last week's special community meeting on "hardening" security at the district's schools in the wake of the Newtown Connecticut shooting massacre.
Last night (Monday Jan 14) Waters took on critics of the decision who have questioned (through comments on Patch and other community blog sites) the decision to hire Chambers because of the controversy that led to Chambers' four day suspension at the end of 2011.
Chambers announced his decision to retire at the end of 2011 while he was serving the four day suspension. Chambers was suspended by the Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors following an indicent in which his 16-year-old son drove a township police car on a training track. At the time of the incident in the fall of 2011 the teen only had a learner's permit and got into a minor accident, damaging the car. According to reports at the time there was a police driving instructor in the patrol car. The suspension resulted from Chambers' failure to report the accident.
While perhaps considered scandalous to some critics in the blogsphere and some members of the public, T/E School Board President Kevin Burkas is standing by Waters' decision to hire Chambers. "It (Chambers' suspension) has nothing to do with the safety of the students, which is our only concern." Burkas made the comments after Waters addressed the issue head-on during a School Board Finance Committee Monday night.
When he announced the decision to hire Chambers during last week's special safety meeting, Waters told the audience that he had worked with Chambers for 35 years and there was no one better suited to know the culture of the schools. At the time Waters said the district considered two other candidates who may have been qualified in terms of reviewing the physical plant aspect of school buildings, but knowing the culture of the schools and understanding how staff and students operate and think is a vital part of understanding how schools would react in the event of a gunman or other life-threatening emergency.
Chambers spent 30 years on the Tredyffrin Police force, working his way through the ranks to become Superintendent. During that time the Tredyffrin Police worked closely with the school district on student safety issues. That cooperation continues today with both the Tredyffrin and Easttown Police Departments.
Waters says no other security consultant could bring the same background, and intimate knowledge of the school district and police department to the security audit.
Chambers is expect to begin his review of buildings and procedures in February. Water says he must be vetted through the same screening process as any consultant the district would hire for any kind of systemic audit. He will be paid from the same capital budget that will cover the costs of installing entrance cameras and electronic buzz-in lock systems at the entrance doors of every school.
During last week's public meeting the district estimated initial costs for the security upgrades and security audit to come to about $250,000. Water says Chambers will be paid only for the time he works on reviewing school safety and putting together his recommendations for future building upgrades and safety procedures.