I have been thinking about the mass shooting in Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School non-stop, and I will admit to feeling emotional about it. As a parent, an educator and one who has responsibility for our schools – 97,000 students and 14,000 staff members – I worry about the potential of something so awful happening in our schools. As a district, I want us to dig into this issue in a public way, as opposed to allowing this tragedy to simply become another violent moment in our country’s history.
Seemingly, as a nation, we have become desensitized to these types of tragedies. We have emotional days, and perhaps even months after they occur, but slowly we return to our routines. Let’s make sure we don’t do that this time!
For school staff and school leaders, these incidents remind us of our responsibility to our students and larger community. Recognizing that these tragedies can happen anywhere, at any time, also has reminded us that we must continue to review and evaluate our district’s extensive safety and security plans. It’s a responsibility that we share with local law enforcement and public health professionals.
Please know that our district has safety plans in place for an active shooter. Still, we are not satisfied, and we must investigate further to identify best practices and measures to keep our people safe. We will commit to the following:
Communicate our current practices
Assess what we should do to improve our practices and preventive measures
Engage our community in a dialogue
Also, remember that while we have many safety and response strategies in place, we will not be idle or content. We will continue to be vigilant in our efforts to keep our students and employees safe.
I am deeply saddened and troubled by the mass shooting tragedies and am even more committed to providing an atmosphere where our families know that our students and staff feel protected, comfortable, and ready to learn.