Update from the Superintendent - December 14, 2023

This is the 5th (and final) part of a multi-week series on school safety with today's focus on behavior threat assessment and social media monitoring. The US Department of Justice has outlined the 10 basic tenets of school-based planning and actions with respect to physical and emotional safety, as shown in the chart below.

  • The US Secret Service reports that warning signs, when taken collectively, can be important indicators of potential violence. In a 20-year report that reviewed school shootings back to Columbine High School in 1999, the following common factors amongst perpetrators were found:
  • 70% of perpetrators had access to weapons (half of these were not secured in the home)
  • Weapons research and supply lists for firearms and explosives discovered
  • Hit lists developed
  • 50% had written or verbalized bullying grievances
  • Academic/disciplinary stressors (suspensions)
  • Fixation on Columbine, Nazis, etc. are huge red flags
  • Attempting to recruit peers for dangerous activities
  • 75% left statements - written, online, verbal (weapons, violence, hate speech, self-harm, homicidal comments, death threats)

When students pose a potential threat to themselves or others in our schools, we utilize our mental health services team of professionals to help assess and respond. In 2022-23, there were 39 risk assessments conducted, down from 49 the year before. Communication with the district’s Risk Assessment coordinator, in consultation with the building administrators and Director of Instructional Support, takes place in a timely manner. Decisions about whether or not the student should continue to be in school prior to the completion of the risk assessment is made on a case-by-case basis by school administration. In certain circumstances, the School Resource Officer is involved in these discussions.

One factor that tends to be challenging for some, if not many, students is social media. This is a stressor that was not around for many parents/guardians when we were in school, but it has become a definitive social tool for students today. As part of our digital citizenship lessons with students K-12, education is provided at age-appropriate times around topics ranging from balance and wellness to effective and productive use of social media, digital foot printing, online privacy and security, cyberbullying, and how to discern fake news.

Robert Hackenson Jr., a professional speaker/edutainer with www.DynamicInfluence.com, presented on the topic of social media to a majority of the district's students last week during several assemblies (and held an evening parent forum). Though balancing his message with the positive nature of technology, cell phones, and social media, he also provided age-appropriate education on some (or all) of these topics: technology addiction & anxiety, cyber bullying, warning about posting too much information online, how predators use the information you post, your digital profile & who's looking (colleges, employers, etc.), the illusion of security & privacy on social media, sexting (why it’s done and potential legal and social consequences), and texting & driving.

Missed the previous segments? Catch up here: 
Part 1: Comprehensive school safety planning & campus/school/classroom security
Part 2: Safety series resumes: Coordination with first responders and school-based law enforcement.
Part 3: Drills and anonymous reporting systems
Part 4: School climate and Mental health resources