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Father Of Student Killed In Parkland Shooting Discusses School Safety

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

And now to a parent of Parkland students. One, Patrick, is a senior there this year. Another, 14-year-old Alaina, was one of the students killed in the shooting in February. Their father, Ryan Petty, joins us now. Hey, Mr. Petty.

RYAN PETTY: Good Afternoon.

KELLY: Good afternoon. I am very sorry for your loss and your family's loss.

PETTY: Thank you. It still seems surreal.

KELLY: Yeah.

PETTY: Yesterday was the six-month anniversary of the shooting, so it was a tough day around our house and around a lot of the victims' families' homes yesterday.

KELLY: Of course. May I ask what what dinner was like last night or what breakfast was like at your house this morning? Did y'all have a conversation about how you were going to get through today?

PETTY: You know, we have - we did. But Patrick, our youngest son, is a senior. He's been actually back at school for a couple of days, getting ready for the other students to come back - and so very proud of him. He has really demonstrated a lot of courage and - in his willingness to go back to school and actually help other students come back and feel safe.

KELLY: You dropped him off this morning. Is that right?

PETTY: He's a senior, so he drove himself...

KELLY: Oh, he drove, all right. There we go.

PETTY: ...There today. Yeah, he did, yes, which comes with its own set of risks.

KELLY: Yeah. I want to ask you. We just heard in that report there from Greg Allen about some of the security measures that have been put in place, things like ID checks and backpack checks. From a parent's point of view, is that the right move, and is it enough?

PETTY: It's a good first step, and it certainly makes me as a parent feel a little bit better about sending our youngest son back to the school where our daughter was killed - so, you know, certainly a good step. Are we where we need to be - no. Do I think we can prevent - will these measures prevent what happened before or something similar? No, I don't think it's enough.

KELLY: I want people to know that one of your responses to all of this has been to get directly involved. You've decided to run for Broward County School Board this year.

PETTY: I have. I recognize the importance of these so-called down-ballot elections. I mean, school boards are literally making life-and-death decisions for our kids and for our teachers. And I decided the best way for me to influence the policies and make sure that the security protocols are implemented correctly is to run for office, become a member of the school board and have a seat at the table.

KELLY: And what is it specifically you would like to get done?

PETTY: There's three things I want to do that I think are vitally important. One is I want to focus and prioritize on school safety. I don't believe the district did that in the events that led up to the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas. There were opportunities missed to intervene, and I think we need to enhance our early identification and intervention programs. I think we missed an opportunity there to not only identify the shooter but to prevent him from getting onto campus...

KELLY: OK.

PETTY: ...And doing what he did, number one. Number two, I think we have got to deliver a quality education to all of our students, and I don't think in Broward County we - we're achieving the kind of academic performance we need to. And three, we need transparency and accountability in our school district. The school district has yet to really acknowledge the mistakes that were made, and I think to really make the changes we need to to keep our students and teachers safe, we have to acknowledge the mistakes. We have to be willing to recognize those mistakes and then of course make the changes that are necessary to make sure it doesn't happen again.

KELLY: All right, Mr. Petty, thank you.

PETTY: Thank you.

KELLY: That is Ryan Petty, the father of two Stoneman Douglas students - Alaina, who was killed in the shooting in February, and Patrick, who went back to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School today as a senior. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.