Letter to middle school families, talking about tragedy with children

                                                                                        March 1, 2018

Dear Parents and Guardians,

This has been an emotional couple of weeks for families and school districts across the country.  The recent tragedy in Florida has made us all reconsider how we best protect our children, our schools, and our way of life.  I wanted to reach out to you to share some important information that will ideally answer some of your questions and will also enlist your help as we move forward.

Our superintendent, Dr. Bailey, shared a letter with families earlier this week.  He asked all of us to look ahead and consider how we continue to ensure the safety and emotional health of our children.  RCS and it’s district-wide safety teams have continuously tackled these issues.  However, despite our best efforts, there are times when individuals say or do things online or in the community that raise concerns about safety.  One of the most impactful things that has proven to stop violence, both in RCS and nationwide, is to say something if you see something.  We need our students to help in this process.

Our children have social lives and social awareness that sometimes far exceeds that of our own.  Their time online and in classrooms, hallways, cafeterias and buses places them in constant contact with peers.  The safety of our schools is everyone’s responsibility.  Please take a moment to talk to your children about their role in “see something, say something.”  Here are some suggested talking points that you can adapt to meet the maturity of your child:

  • Trust your instincts:  Suspicious behavior is behavior that feels wrong in a place, time, or situation.  It could be something subtle, such as an unusual/unattended item or someone performing surveillance.  It could be something clear, such as a verbal/written threat of violence.
  • Who should you report to?  A person in authority • Trusted adult • School staff member: teacher, counselor, secretary, custodian, cafeteria worker, bus driver
  • Describe what you saw: • WHAT did you observe? Be specific. • WHO did you see? • WHEN did you see it? • WHERE did you see this occur? • WHY is it suspicious?
  • Why so much practice for school safety?  We practice to make things perfect, or as perfect as they can be.  Drills should be taken seriously, with calm and focus.  We are practicing to save lives in the event of a real emergency.  Practicing can save your life or the lives of friends/staff.

As a middle school community, our first concern is your child.  We have safety measures in place and have done the following to take additional steps to ensure the safety of everyone in the building.  Some of our actions include:

  • Meeting with our Crisis Response Team (CRT) and reviewing, revising and practicing our safety plans.
  • Talking with students to review safety plans and giving them a voice to express their concerns.
  • Providing professional development for staff to recognize and respond to a crisis.
  • Collaborating with law enforcement to prevent, prepare for, and respond to a crisis event.
  • Getting students to understand the safety protocols and take them serious as they may save their life.
  • Impressing upon our students:  “IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING”

Again, if you or your children ever have a concern about a potential threat, no matter how small, please reach out to the school leaders or to the police.

We place the safety of your children above all else in our school, please help us to keep them safe.

Sincerely,

Pamela G. Black, Principal