Parents Who Lost Child In Newtown Shooting Speak At Columbus School Conference

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The parents of a young victim of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School talked to education leaders in central Ohio about keeping children safe in school.

The Ohio School Boards Association is holding its conference at the convention center.

At one of the breakout sessions on school safety, the parents of a little girl who was killed in the Newtown massacre shared their story and also the lessons learned that day.

Alissa and Robbie Parker are the parents of Emilie Parker, one of the 20 children killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.

Alissa and Robbie Parker say as the one-year anniversary approaches, many emotions are stirred up.

"It has been a pretty tumultuous year,” said Robbie Parker

The Parker's say in that time, they have worked to help their community, and others, improve school safety.

The couple, and other Sandy Hook parents, founded, “Safe and Sound,” an organization dedicated to improving school security through collaboration and sharing information, tools and resources.

They also share, what they say, are the valuable lessons they have learned.

“Our school was an amazing school that took safety very seriously like many schools across the country do, but unfortunately, the standard that we thought was acceptable, we realized that day - it just wasn't.” said Alissa Parker, “And, it wasn't because they didn't care or they didn't want to be prepared they just didn't have everything in place”

"At Sandy Hook, in order to be able to lock the classroom door the teacher had to go out into the hallway and with a key lock the door,” said Robbie Parker “And in the situation they were faced with, they were unable to do that and it made them very, very, vulnerable."

Their message to school districts: Take a hard look at your buildings and find all the gaps in security before you put your safety plan in place.

"Getting schools to get an assessment, so that they can accurately plan and strategically think through things before they make big decisions like that,” said Alissa Parker.

Proactive steps like the one Westerville City Schools took.

After recognizing one door at every school remained unlocked, the district fast tracked a plan to get buzzers at every door before Thanksgiving break.  

On Tuesday a district spokesperson told 10TV the district is still on schedule.

The Parkers say they are continuing to heal from the loss of their daughter and are thankful for the support received.

They say they will quietly honor their daughter on the one year anniversary and encourage others to use that day to share kindness.

“As a parent, take your children and do something nice for someone else. Pay it forward in your own community and do that in the name and the memory of one of the precious people who were lost that day.”