Safety Message – February 20, 2018

A message from Superintendent Ford regarding Friday, February 16, 2018

Dear Parent or Guardian:

After the incident Friday morning, I paused to be thankful that our school handled the crisis effectively.  The resolution was as good as we could have hoped for.  I am proud of our tight-knit community, students, staff and our local police partners.  There is not a blueprint on how to handle a situation like the one we had at the end of last week.  I appreciate you, as parents, for your support in the matter.  Safety is our district’s number one priority and we all play a role.

Students will react to this incident in different ways.  We have a tremendous guidance staff if your student needs to talk to someone about their feelings or concerns.

There were many stories that came out on Friday and into the weekend that were not factual.  There were reports that the school had knowledge of the issue the night before.  That is false.  District officials were notified Friday morning and reacted swiftly and decisively.  There were also statements that this has happened before.  I have been here 18 years and nothing like this has occurred before, this was a first.  

We have a safe school.  Our district has a Safety Committee that meets monthly.  We discuss safety issues, arrange for trainings and are proactive in constant improvement.   The committee is comprised of representatives from each building as well as community members.

Our district has a very close relationship with the Centralia Police Department.  We have an established police presence in all of our schools.  Our students have a trusting relationship with our local law enforcement.  Chief Dudgeon is to be commended as he would not have it any other way.  Each school day, over 1400 of this community’s most prized possessions congregate to learn at our schools.  The administration, staff and local law enforcement take the safety of these students very seriously.  

Staff members are trained in emergency response procedures.  Specific plans are in place for each building for a variety of emergencies.  We conduct regular drills and routinely include emergency personnel and police. Drills are debriefed by our Safety Committee so that we can address issues in a timely manner.   Our staff participated in extensive training on January 3rd, that included live intruder drill training conducted by the police department and staff was also trained in CPR.  

Our buildings are equipped with buzz-in systems and schools are secured throughout the school day.  This year undercover officers have tried to gain access to our schools during the day and after some adjustments have been unable to get into our schools while classes are in session.  The district has also invested in camera systems as well as improved exterior lighting and communication systems.  

We are also a partner in the Boone County Mental Health Coalition, which brings our local school districts together to implement prevention and intervention methods that reduce risk factors for children, and coordinate services for at-risk students and families.

Our district is starting to put together our new Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP).  We will be launching a facilities committee that will, among other things, look to improve safety measures.  We will be looking at ways for parents to weigh in on their thoughts and suggestions for safety in our schools.  You can rest assured that our School Board will be committed advancing safety measures in our district.

We are all in this together.  We had students Friday who heard something, saw something, and most importantly SAID something.  Please visit with your child about how important that it is to be vigilant and to understand that it is okay to tell an adult if they are aware of something concerning.  

The Centralia R-VI School District is committed to the best interests and safety of your child.  We will work together to assure that our safety plans and procedures for preventing and dealing with situations such as this are as effective as possible.  Through constant review and practice we will make sure that our children are protected.  

Thank you for your support,

Darin Ford

Superintendent

Centralia R-VI Schools

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