Please read this important message from our School Superintendent:
Dear Parents/Community Members:
In the aftermath of the most recent, tragic school shootings, an obvious question is what is the school district doing to ensure the greatest level of safetypossible for our children? In follow-up to our communication with you in December regarding the Newtown tragedy, I wanted to take an opportunity to inform you about the steps the District has taken to ensure that our schools are safe.
The District is in the process of undertaking a thorough and comprehensive review of our existing safety and security measures. Perhaps most importantly, we are working hand-in-hand with our police and fire departments to implement procedures and practices that will bolster our current strategies. As you may have noticed, police presence on our campuses has increased, and the SMPD is committed to have school liaison officers in more direct and frequent contact with the school sites. I have been working directly with Police Chief Tim Harrigan, both to discuss the steps we need to take to perform a thorough analysis of our safetyreadiness and to discuss specific measures for protecting our children. Chief Harrigan will be presenting information for the Board of Education at their regularly scheduled meeting on January 22, 2013. Schools will be conducting lock-down drills as usual, and the police department will be observing those drills and offering suggestions to improve our practices, should that be necessary. Both the police and fire departments will be joining school district personnel and site administrators in a detailed analysis of district-wide and site-specific policies and practices designed to heighten school safety. Additionally, Post Alarms patrol officers have increased their patrol of our schools during the day.
The District Safety Committee met yesterday to hear specifics of the District's safety analysis to-date and to offer ideas on how to enhance safety. School sites have had or will be having their own safety committees meet to discuss their ideas for improving safety at their specific sites. Fire Chief Jim Frawley will be coordinating policies and practices to provide consistency among the schools throughout the District. The police and fire departments will be coordinating their efforts and reviewing their working protocols with the schools to maximize the effectiveness of preventive, response, and aftermath efforts.
The school district is working with outside consultants who are providing information regarding both safetypolicies and practices and physical enhancements to campuses to minimize the possibility of a shooting incident at one of our four schools. We are working with communications companies to be sure we are able to secure a response to any emergency as quickly as possible.
We also need your help if we are to make our schools as safe as possible. We are fortunate to have so many parents and community members on our campuses volunteering in ways that make our schools better. The challenge is that it makes it more difficult for school personnel to know who belongs on campus and who does not. For the protection of the children, please cooperate with us by signing in and obtaining a visitor pass whenever you visit the school. All visitors to our schools are required to check in at the main office, sign in, and secure and wear a visitor's pass if they are going to be on the campus. This is also for your safety. If an incident unfolds at a school and the school administrators do not know that you are on campus, you place yourself at added risk. If you are not wearing a visitor's pass and you are asked to identify yourself and the reason you are on campus, we ask that you please understand that it is for safety reasons and not take offense.
We also need your help in teaching your child that it is critical to inform school personnel if your child is aware of any threats that students might be making. For older children, if they know that one of their peers is depressed, angry, or appears extremely anti-social, it is crucial to share that information with school officials. Our school psychologists are trained to work with troubled children and to do threat assessments, when appropriate. They can only use their expertise, however, when they become aware of potential problems. As we have become painfully aware in recent years, bullying can aggravate the pressure felt by a troubled child, sometimes with tragic consequences. Please be sure your child understands that not only is bullying wrong, but it can lead to tragedy.
Please be assured that we are in the process of a systematic safety assessment to ensure that we can prevent violence on our campuses. We will move forward as quickly as possible to implement the most effective policies and practices that are possible.
Above all, we believe that our #1 priority is the safety of our students and staff.
Thank you for your continued support of our schools.