Deacon Tom Berg, vice chancellor of the Catholic Church Diocese in Columbus, said an investigation is ongoing to determine how William Michael Layne was able to walk freely into the building and into Christi Layne's, his estranged wife, classroom to shoot and stab her in front of her students.
"I think we have to wait until all the facts are in. There's a lot that's happened in the last 24 hours, and I think it would be premature to start drawing conclusions. We would want to wait until all the facts are in, and everybody who is looking into what happened has had a chance to investigate and report," he said.
Many newer school buildings in the county were designed after the Columbine (Colo.) High School shootings, with security keenly in mind. Older schools, however, are left to adapt new security plans and equipment for buildings not designed for the problems of our modern society.
Some New Boston school buildings are nearly a century old. Superintendent Mike Staggs said securing the buildings was one of his primary goals when he took office last year.
"Anytime students are present at the school, our buildings are locked down and are only accessible through one door that has a camera system, so our building secretaries can buzz people into the building. We had that in place at the beginning of this year," he said.
Students are not permitted to open the doors for anyone, under any circumstances, Staggs said. He knows the system works, because he's even found himself locked out of one building.
"I'd go to one of the schools, and my key wouldn't work. I'd fumble with my keys, but there was no way for me to get into the building," he said. "I was standing outside waiting, and the kids won't let me in, and they know who I am."
During the incident at Notre Dame on Thursday, New Boston Schools went into a stage-one lockdown in which the kids move freely inside the building, but all the doors are locked and anyone who tries to come in is checked by staff. During a stage-two lockdown, Staggs said, nobody could enter or leave the buildings and students are confined to their classrooms.
"Until we knew that the shooter was apprehended or taken care of, we weren't going to let our kids outside the building," Staggs said.
At Sciotoville Community Schools, students were placed on a partial lockdown, leaving four doors unlocked but keeping adults stationed at each of them to monitor activity. Additional staff also routinely surveyed the hallways and escorted students between parts of the building.
Some parents chose to remove their children from the school during the incident on Thursday, but Director of Operations Dennis DeCamp said it wasn't a big problem for the school. Many of those parents, he said, even brought their kids back to school after the situation in Portsmouth had been resolved.
"That's just the reaction of parents for their kids, and I understand that. We deal with it, and the bottom line is parents are responsible for their kids and we do the best we can when we're here doing that. But parents are allowed to be parents," DeCamp said.
In all, he said he believes the school's security measures were effective.
Aside from New Boston and Sciotoville, Clay is one of the last remaining districts in the county to not currently have newer buildings - though a plan is in place to ask voters to support a levy for new buildings during next month's elections.
Superintendent Anthony Mantell said there was perhaps one major lesson all schools, everywhere, should learn from this incident.
"You really need to not only focus on, is someone going to come after a child, which is our definite priority, but also if there are estranged spouses or significant others. They always know where the person they had a problem with works, and the workplace is somewhere they know they can find that person," Mantell said.
He said it would be good if the school were more mindful of potential domestic situations involving their employees.
With Clay's new school in the early planning stages, Mantell said security will be a major priority in its design.
"Even before yesterday's events, just being aware of things that have happened around the country and around the world, and we have visited a number of school buildings that are new and there are some things that we really liked from a security stand point," he said.
Regardless of whatever the most advanced security systems in the world may have, Mantell said it really comes down to one simple thing.
"Just the fact that you can keep your doors locked and be very secure, that's probably the most important thing anyone can do," he said.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235.