February 26, 2018
Dear Students, Families and Community Partners,
It was indeed a tragedy, when we heard about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the students, staff, families and community who are suffering in the aftermath of this tragedy. This incident serves as an important opportunity to talk about our school and district safety plans. While the education of our community’s children is the world’s most important work and our primary mission is to educate students, our greatest responsibility remains to keep students and staff safe when they are in our care.
We work closely with staff and community partners to help support students and families in many ways. When it comes to safety, we have a strong partnership with the Mason County Sheriff’s Office and the Mason County Fire Department. We seek their advice often and implement their recommendations. We are fortunate to have a resource officer, Deputy M. Colbenson, assigned to our district. He works cooperatively with all the schools in the district. We also coordinate with local emergency responders to ensure our procedures for fire, earthquake, lockdowns and all other safety drills are current and reflect best practices for student, staff and visitor safety.
We have improved entrance security at all buildings. Each district site has a Dual Band radio and we conduct radio checks every month to ensure lines of communication are open.
Safety is about more than immediate physical needs; it is also about maintaining a strong safety net for those who need extra support. We have full time counselors in each of our schools. We have an additional grant-funded partnership to offer mental health support to students. Efforts continue to ensure all of our students have trusted adults to talk with when they are hurting, and our staff have the skills to reach out to help when they see someone struggling. One of the ways we do this is by focusing on social-emotional learning for students in all grades. We have trained “Threat Assessment Teams” at each school helping to identify indicators and proactively respond to issues and individuals. Each school site conducts regular lockdown, fire and earthquake drills on a regular basis. This keeps each site ready and prepared should the need arise.
Finally, we maintain a safety tip line. If students, parents or community members have information, tips or concerns regarding a safety issue in our schools, they are encouraged to visit Safe Schools Alert for confidential, anonymous, communication with our safety staff. This includes concerns a student may hear at school or see on social media.
Ensuring that our schools are safe and welcoming places is a collective commitment between us all. We work every day to reach out to children who are most in need of extra love and support. I know that no amount of work in school safety will provide 100% assurance that all safety issues will be resolved, but I want to assure you that we take our responsibility seriously. If you have specific concerns or feedback, please share them with any school principal, district administrator or myself.
Thank you for your continued support in helping us provide meaningful and relevant education in a safe and secure environment.
Dana Rosenbach, Superintendent