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Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

School Safety From Parent Engagement

As principal, one of my primary roles is focused on the safety of our 938 students and staff members.

Author Rob Darling, Ed.D

As principal, one of my primary roles is focused on the safety of our 938 students and staff members. When we make decisions regarding safety protocol and procedures, we do so based on data, based on research, utilizing people who are trained and certified to guide and support our safety efforts.

As parents, you play a big role in helping us keep our students safe. This is especially true during those moments of emergencies. I'm going to share some statistics with you that are not fun to talk about, that may be scary to think about, and that cause our minds to go places we don't want to think about. But it's crucial for us to have this information so we know how to best respond during those worst-case scenarios.

Here is some data

1. There is no profile of the next school shooter. We do know that 93.5% of them are males/boys. 95% were current students from that school.

2. Students are the highest fatality group in shootings. That is why it's important for our students to be informed about what to do in the case of emergencies, and to have open and candid conversations about why we will barricade a door, or why we may choose to run.

3. Having metal detectors don't help. Three recent shooting happened in locations with metal detectors.

4. The average active shooting is over in about 4 minutes.

5. "Duck and cover" is the common denominator in deaths in school shootings. Hiding is not often the best option.

6. Pulling the fire alarm should never be used to alert people to an emergency. The last fire fatality in a school was 1958. Pulling a fire alarm may cause students to run towards danger.

7. 71.8% of K-12 shootings since 1970 have occurred at the high school, 13.7% at an elementary school.

8. 81% of all K-12 shooters told at least 3 people beforehand that there was going to be an incident. This is why we tell staff and students "See something, say something." 

9. Zero people have ever gone through with the plan once they were caught and received help.

10. 100% of locked AND closed doors have NEVER been breached by a bad guy. We are in the process of having every classroom door remain locked and closed during the school days, including the doors to the pods that are not attached to the main building. This may be a little inconvenient for students and parents, but that's a statistic we cannot ignore. 

9. Texts take 1/1000 of the bandwidth of cell phone calls. For this reason, to avoid crashing cell phone towers we will implement communication via text only during actual emergencies. And we won't be contacting homes first. We will be contacting police first, as we have information they need.


Crucial Information for Parents

  • In case of an emergency, PLEASE DO NOT COME TO THE SCHOOL. There are only two streets that can be used by police, SWAT, Fire and EMS to get to our school. If you try to come to the school, and your car is in the road, you will probably cause more harm to our students, as you may be blocking 10 police who are frantically attempting to get support to us. 
  • In case of emergency, GO TO THE DISTRICT OFFICE. Our reunification point is the park across the street. Students will be placed on busses and driven over there. But it will take time.
  • In case of emergency, PLEASE DON'T CALL THE SCHOOL. Bad guys are attracted to sound and movement. Ringing phones will not help the situation, and we certainly won't be answering. 
  • We do monthly drills. We have a crisis planning team. We have a crisis response team. We are a member of the School Safety Operations and Coordination Center in Yakima whose sole job is to monitor internet chatter, emergency calls, threats, etc., and help us create the safest learning situation possible for students and staff. We are very proactive and responsive in our approach to school safety.
  • We have not moved forward with closing the campus to parents before school, but we have taken extra measures to provide more supervision at crucial blind spots around campus. Moving forward next year, other procedures will be in place to insure AM and PM safety. 

I know these are not fun conversations. But our heart can't go where our head has never been. If we don't plan for, talk about, or practice what we'd do in these worst-case scenarios, we will not be prepared. We will continue to find ways to improve our safety efforts, including having candid yet lighthearted safety conversations with our students.


For more on Dr. Darling's blog

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