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Letter to DCSD families

December 18, 2013

Dear DCSD Families:

Our hearts go out to the students, teachers, and staff at Arapahoe High School and our colleagues in Littleton Public Schools.  The tragic events of Friday have, once again, reminded us why safety is our number one priority in Douglas County School District.  Immediately following the tragedy, we reached out to Littleton Public Schools to offer our condolences and our support.  As a result, we deployed DCSD staff to Littleton Public Schools.

It is hard to believe that only one year ago, I sent all DCSD families a similar letter after the unspeakable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary.  In each of these instances, we have taken the opportunity to review our own security measures and continually improve our practices for our staff and students.  As you know, over the past twelve months, we have significantly increased police presence at all of our campuses, strengthened our safety protocols, implemented a new safety committee, enhanced buildings, and implemented a layered approach to safety throughout the district.

I am very proud that DCSD has an extremely close working relationship with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department, Castle Rock Police Department, City of Lone Tree Police Department, and Parker Police Department.  We meet regularly to review our procedures and continually develop plans to strengthen DCSD school safety through our partnerships with law enforcement.  I would like to review some of the safety processes and practices we currently have in place:

 All DCSD school doors are locked and/or have safety personnel at the door to greet each visitor. 

  1. All middle and high schools have school security at their entrances.
  2. All DCSD high schools have uniformed School Resource Officers and marked cars in addition to safety personnel at the open door.
  3. We practice many drills regularly including Lock Out and Lock Down drills.
  4. We do “tabletop exercises” with emergency scenarios in collaboration with law enforcement annually.
  5. We provide district, high-speed internet access to our law enforcement partners so they can do reports, etc. in our parking lots and/or in our schools.  We appreciate the extra police presence and our internet access is much faster than the cellular alternative. 
  6. We partner with law enforcement to offer Y.E.S.S. and many other proactive safety programs, including Text-a-Tip.
  7. We have a standard response protocol (SRP) in place in all district buildings.
  8. Each summer we (DCSD + law enforcement) do active shooter trainings in our schools.
  9. Our schools provide free school lunches to all police officers who stop by during the lunch period.
  10. This year we implemented the School Marshal Program in all of our elementary and middle schools.  Police officers make unscheduled, unannounced visits to schools throughout each day.
  11. We continually review our safety procedures through our Safety Committee, which includes district leaders, law enforcement, and emergency services.

We want to thank you for your patience as the situation unfolded in Centennial. As always, our first priority was working with our law enforcement partners to ensure the safety of our staff and students. While there was no apparent threat to the safety of our students or staff, as a precautionary measure, our schools were placed in a Lock Out or Secure Perimeter within minutes of being advised of the situation by the Douglas County Sheriff. That means that our staff is on increased alert, all school doors are locked and that all visitors to the school must show identification at the main entrance. Normal school activities continued indoor as planned. 

We also worked closely with our local law enforcement partners. Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Castle Rock, Lone Tree, and Parker Police Departments increased patrols at our schools. 

Finally, DCSD is also committed to providing parents with accurate and timely information during emergency situations once the security of each of our schools is achieved. We did post information about the Lock Out on many of our communication avenues Friday on schedule.  This included our website, mobile app, social media and Infinite Campus.  Still, we understand that some parents received parts of the messaging much later than we feel is acceptable. We are currently looking into what caused this delay and are taking immediate action to ensure that all parents are notified in a very timely fashion in the future. 

The communication delay we experienced Friday is never acceptable to us, and we are grateful that in this instance, the Lock Out or Secure Perimeter was a precautionary measure that has allowed us to test our systems and make immediate improvements.  Yesterday, we made significant improvements to our communication pathways with the implementation of a new robo-call strategy.

We are dedicated to continual improvement and welcome any feedback about the security of our buildings at:

https://www.dcsdk12.org/schoolsafetyandsecurity/feedback/index.htm

Thank you again for your partnership in keeping our schools safe, and if I do not see you before, please have a safe and wonderful holiday season.

Liz