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From the Superintendent: School Safety Update

From the Superintendent: School Safety Update

December 3, 2021

Dear Clarkston Community Schools Families and Staff,

The strong partnership we have with our families and staff is the glue that holds this district together, and your trust is something I don’t take for granted. Direct, transparent, and frequent communication has always been our priority and I will continue to keep you informed as we make every effort to keep our schools safe.  

In the wake of the tragic events at Oxford High School this week, many students, staff, and families have voiced their concerns, and I am listening. 

I am very thankful that we have had a strong partnership with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office (OSCO) for many years. Their support, training, and quick response to our every concern is instrumental in ensuring our schools are safe. The safety of our students and staff has been a top priority long before this week, and it will always remain that way.

Our staff has been fully trained in ALICE (“Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate”) protocols. The ALICE Training Institute is the gold standard of crisis response training and empowers staff and students with proactive, options-based strategies. Our students and staff have practiced these drills, and we will continue to practice and update this training. We have made comprehensive enhancements to our facilities, including secure entrances and multi-layered safety measures. Our nationally-recognized safety training and protocols are robust, and we will continue to enhance these efforts. We had a very productive meeting yesterday with the OCSO leadership to review our multi-layered safety measures across the district and ensure safe campuses now and in the long term. 

As we head into the weekend, I want to share our plans for a safe return to school on Monday morning. While I cannot get into specific details to protect the integrity of our plans, we will have an increased law enforcement presence across the district, and both uniformed and plain-clothes officers patrolling our campuses. In addition, there will be a broader network of officers spread through our community and available to our district if necessary.

Our students, staff, and families also play an essential role in this process. We encourage anyone to continue to report anything threatening in nature to the district, OSCO, or OK-2-SAY. While law enforcement has been investigating a high volume of indirect threats this week, they have expressed to me that they would rather have the opportunity to examine every concern thoroughly, so please, if you see something, say something. You can do so anonymously using any of the following tip lines. 

I also urge you to have conversations with your children. First and foremost, assure them that the adults are doing all they can to keep them safe in our schools. Also, please explain to them the importance of not perpetuating rumors or making false threats or accusations. Unfortunately, these present unnecessary challenges for CCS and other local school districts and tax our local law enforcement. Please encourage your children to report what they hear through the proper channels above, and allow law enforcement to determine whether or not it is credible. Sheriff Bouchard held a press conference yesterday explaining that his team will prosecute any individual who makes such threats. 

Rest assured that this is not where our work stops. We have invested both time and resources into the appropriate training and facility updates necessary to ensure our schools are safe for years and we will continue these efforts. Although our procedures and practices are strong, recent events are prompting us to do even more. We will be evaluating protocols and facilities over the next several weeks with security experts to determine where additional changes and enhancements can be made. Work is also in progress to secure another permanent OCSO liaison officer, in addition to the two officers already stationed in our schools. 

Lastly, this work involves taking a deeper dive into our social-emotional supports as I believe this also plays a vital role in safety. CCS has a focus on the whole person; we have social workers, counselors, and interventionists that are available throughout the district to support our students. In addition, we have a partnership with Easterseals for school-based mental health support, available in person and virtually, as well as outside the school day. Based on circumstances we will review our support in place to see where additional resources are needed. I will continue to keep you updated on our progress.

In the meantime, please take time this weekend to continue to heal and prepare for our return on Monday. We look forward to having our students and staff back in our classrooms. If you have any questions or concerns over this weekend, please contact us at feedback@clarkston.k12.mi.us.

Sincerely,

Dr. Shawn Ryan

 

About Clarkston Community Schools: Clarkston is a highly regarded school district with an enrollment of nearly 7,100 students. We have seven elementary schools (K-5), one middle school serving grades 6-7, one junior high for grades 8-9, and Clarkston High School, which serves students in grades 10-12. We also have a virtual academy, an Early Childhood Center serving children ages 3-5, and an alternative high school/community education facility. Clarkston Community Schools students are well-prepared for a future that excites them, and believe that they can achieve their dreams. The mission of Clarkston Community Schools is to create a learning environment where students, staff, and families are challenged, healthy, engaged, safe, and supported.


Read more Clarkston Community Schools News at www.clarkston.k12.mi.us/news.

Questions or Feedback? Email feedback@clarkston.k12.mi.us

Media Contact: Kelly Allen, Director of Marketing and Community Relations (248) 623-5460.


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