An open letter to the community:
Like you, I watched in horror last week as we witnessed the reports of another tragic school shooting. This one, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, took the lives of students and staff. Everyone associated with schools: students, parents, staff members and community members feel the pain and trauma each time this happens in our country. We search for answers to questions like: “How could this happen again?” and “How can we keep it from happening in the future?” As we grieve with the families in Florida, we also look to the security measures we have in place to protect our students and staff.
In GCISD, we practice several different types of scenarios and implement security measures accordingly. We make every effort to physically keep our students safe and we are taking additional steps thanks to our supportive community. In 2016, GCISD voters approved a bond package that included measures to secure students and staff including new security cameras, controlled entrance access for campuses and a fully integrated network security system.
Additionally, each secondary campus has a police officer that is stationed at the school every day and our counselors have resources for reporting concerns on their websites. We work closely with our local police departments and school resource officers to investigate every concern quickly and thoroughly and we communicate with staff, parents and the community when matters arise that need a wider response. We understand that when we do have to communicate, there are questions that may be left unanswered for our families based on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which prohibits the district and campuses from sharing specific information related to the incident or students. Please know that we do have policies and procedures in place for addressing these incidents, even if we are unable to provide you with those details. For more general information on the district’s disciplinary guidelines, please review the Student Code of Conduct.
The most important thing that we can all do is to build strong sense of togetherness and pride in our community’s schools and ensure our adults are building healthy relationships with students. Beginning with ‘“circle up” time in elementary schools, our students begin to build those relationships with their teachers and with each other. Those relationships are the foundations that are built upon when students get to middle and high school. This provides a safe space to have conversations with students when issues arise on campus, in our community and in our nation.
We also encourage everyone to report if they have a suspicion that something might be wrong. The adage of “see something, say something” may seem like a basic concept, but it is critical in our ability to get ahead of a potential threat.
We will continue to practice, review and refine our safety and security measures as the safety of our students and staff is our top priority of the GCISD Board of Trustees and our staff members.
Dr. Robin Ryan