Supt. Hausmann Update on School Safety 09/17/18

Dear Parents/Guardians and Bay Village Schools staff members –

As announced by Bay High and Bay Middle School building principals to their schools' parents and staffs, we had two separate incidents at those schools in the past couple of weeks where a student or students threatened potential gun violence.

We must take every threat seriously. The Bay Village police are contacted in these matters, and we rely on them to investigate these threats. The police visit the homes of involved students and conduct interviews with the students themselves and others who may have additional information. In both these cases, police felt it was entirely safe to continue holding school, and appropriate follow up was made with the students involved and their families.

Consequences in the case of threats are prescribed by law, and juvenile court referrals, as well as suspension or expulsion, could be recommended based upon the seriousness of the threat. Discipline issues are protected by federal educational privacy laws, and those decisions are not shared publicly or with other parents. Be assured, though, that we would never keep school open if we felt in any way that there was a danger to students.

Our goal is first and foremost to keep our students safe. We can train for any number of safety threats -- and we do -- including fire, tornado, evacuations, bus safety, medical emergencies and more. But the threat of someone coming to school with intent to harm is a much more complex scenario, and we are approaching that challenge with a multi-layered approach.

We are adding immediately the following components to our safety plan, including some by trainers from Sandy Hook Promise, a national non-profit organization founded and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.

For staff: Staff will be thoroughly trained on processes when "on alert." But the overall goal is also to dig deeper, to address student mental health and self-management of emotions and behavior. The goal is a healthier student body and community.
  • Administrators and key staff will be trained in Threat Assessment & Intervention, a national, evidenced-based, violence prevention training program researched and developed by Dewey G. Cornell, Ph.D., a forensic clinical psychologist and Professor of Education at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. This training, implemented in tandem by our principals and by Sandy Hook Promise trainers, focuses on recognizing problems with students well before threats occur and getting them appropriate help.
  • We will continue to train with the Bay Village Police Department on school lock downs and crisis response drills. In addition, we have found there are excellent consultants specializing in working with teachers and other school staff in this type of training, and we will be bringing in experts to supplement and advise our staff and our students so we are thoroughly prepared for such emergencies.
  • Security monitors are receiving ongoing training from our Bay Village Police, using the most effective screening and de-escalation techniques of federal and state law enforcement.
  • All staff members will be offered Youth Mental Health First-Aid (YMHFA). It is a training program that teaches participants to recognize the warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents, a time when complicated emotions are at a peak and signs of problems can be brushed off as normal adolescent behavior. We have two YMHFA trainers on staff who have been offering, and will continue to offer, these trainings to parents and others in our community.
  • Our We Care Committee of key staff members meets twice a month to discuss mental health wellness support in our schools and classrooms. We have dozens of practices and programs in our schools to support students emotionally and socially, and this group works to internally integrate, promote, assess and advise so that this kind of support is most effective.
For Students--Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) programs implemented with SHP assistance:
  • Know the Signs program for students (grades 6-12) and staff, which educates on the signs and signals evident before an act of violence or self-harm takes place.
  • Sandy Hook's Say Something reinforces knowledge of Know the Signs and further drives awareness and provides tools to reinforce the need to Say Something. The focus is that this is the opposite of "tattling" to get someone in trouble; it is getting help for someone who needs it and protecting all our students.
  • Our elementary students already have been partcipating in Start With Hello, which teaches children how to be more socially inclusive and connected to one another. This will be implemented in our elementary schools again this year.
  • We will also consider the best way to involve our high school and middle school students in leadership roles in the above areas.
  • We will continue ongoing internet safety instruction.
  • Our School Safety and Security Steering Committee meets weekly, and our larger School Safety and Security Committee meets quarterly, to assess and address how we can improve the physical environment for safety in our schools. Areas being examined, through professional safety audits, are main entrances, classroom security, technology and communications, windows, common areas, grounds and more. In addition, the committee is evaluating operating procedures so that we practice with fidelity the enhanced safety plan being put into place.
We know that time is of the essence for safety in our schools. We also know that in the past five years since the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, expertise in the causes of school violence and the best methods for protecting schools has increased substantially. We are taking advantage of that expertise to provide our dedicated teachers, administrators and staff with the most effective knowledge, training and tools available to do what they all want with all their hearts - to keep our children and our schools safe.

We will be presenting an update on our school safety mission at a community program on Thursday, October 18, at 7 p.m. in the Bay High School auditorium. I hope you can attend to learn all the information we can share with you about our School Safety Program and answer your questions.

Also for your information, I am including a link to the Sandy Hook Promise "Say Something" Parent Guide.


Mrs. Hausmann
TwitterLogo @Hausmann_Bay

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