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Letter to Parents

September 5, 2014

Dear DCSD Parent:

Welcome back to another great school-year!  The weather is extraordinary, and is really starting to feel like fall. By now, I hope your students are looking forward to what I believe will be our best year ever in the Douglas County School District (DCSD).

In DCSD we have long said that safety is our number one priority. We have demonstrated our commitment by engaging in continuous development and implementation of some of the most innovative school safety strategies in American education. We know that if our students and staff are not both physically and psychologically safe, nothing else matters.

As many of you know, the Monday following the unspeakable events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT on Friday, December 14 of 2012, we immediately convened a meeting with District leaders and our law enforcement partners to review our safety measures and develop new ones based on what we learned from brave educators and first responders placed in the most unimaginable and tragic circumstances. Since that meeting, we have implemented a number of new safety programs and protocols. Some of the most notable additions include the DCSD Safety Committee, composed of experts that continually review and improve our school safety, a nationally recognized School Marshal Program, officers in our parking lots using district Wi-Fi to do their necessary reports, and Lunch for Officers in our schools program. We are very proud of our partnership with law enforcement.

In DCSD, safety is now defined in the broadest sense – it includes physical safety, psychological safety, and online safety for all DCSD staff and students. I’m proud to share that in our recently-launched 2014-2017 Strategic Plan, we have transparently demonstrated that Safety is our number one priority in the Douglas County School District, and as such, we are currently focusing on the following goals:

  • Ensure physically safe learning environments for all students and staff
  • Collaborate with all schools to create a system-wide culture that prioritizes and values psychological safety and wellness for all students and staff
  • Build a foundation of prevention, intervention, mental health, security and crisis preparedness

This week, Dr. Jason Germain (Chief Student Advocacy Officer) and his team launched our psychological safety goal. In fact, yesterday, Dr. Scott Poland, an internationally recognized expert on youth suicide, crisis prevention and intervention, spent the day in the District working with counselors, mental health teams, District partners, members of the District Crisis Team, and principals – sharing his insights and expertise. You may have joined him Wednesday night during our District telephone townhall.

If you were unable to connect with Dr. Poland via the telephone town hall, he was also a guest on “Let’s Talk Education,” our weekly talk show. You can watch this episode next week on DougTV (Comcast Channel 54) or on the DCSD website. Dr. Poland shared some great insights and valuable information regarding steps we can take to support our students.

One thing that has been solidified for me this week with Dr. Poland is the fact that you and I (and my team) are partners in ensuring the physical, psychological, and online safety of our children. To that end, I want to encourage you to always contact us with any questions or concerns you may have about your own child or another child.  This information is, of course, confidential, and we want to work together with you to make sure all DCSD students have the support they need.

More specifically, please call and email teachers, counselors, and building leaders with any questions or concerns; and if you feel that you did not find a resolution that leaves you comfortable, please always contact me or members of my team. I have shared their contact information below.

September is National Emergency Preparedness Month, and in the coming weeks we will continue to focus on safety in all of our district communications. We want to make sure that our students, parents, and staff are connected with the many safety resources available in our community. Please visit the safety information on the District website to learn more.

Finally, if you have a chance to look at our new plan, you will also notice that we have stayed the course with our priorities of Choice (empowering and partnering with parents to select the best learning environments and opportunities for their children), System Performance (measuring what matters most to our students and measuring it the right way), and World Class Education (preparing all DCSD students to compete on a world stage for any college or career of their choice).  We are committed to reinventing American education through teacher and building leadership. This is best for our students.

I hope you and your family have an amazing school year. We are off to an excellent start, and I believe that this will be our best year ever in DCSD.

   

Superintendent

Assistant Superintendent Elementary

Assistant Superintendent Secondary

Chief Academic Officer
(Curriculum, instruction, and materials)

Bonnie Betz

Chief Financial Officer

Chief Human Resources Officer

Chief Operating Officer
(Safety, Transportation, Facilities)

Chief Student Advocacy Officer

Chief System Performance Officer (Assessment)

Chief Technology Officer

Community Relations Officer

Innovation and Development Officer
(Professional Development, Charter Schools, and Choice)

Internal Communications Officer

Legal Counsel

Parent Liaison and Advocate