Update - Security in NSSD112
July 14, 2022
"There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about." – Margaret J. Wheatley
Dear North Shore School District 112 Staff, Families & Community,
Our hearts continue to go out to the families of the victims of the mass violence event at the Highland Park 4th of July parade. We hope for recovery physically and emotionally for everyone impacted by this tragedy. Together with our partners in the community, we are proud to help in any way we can to establish calm, comfort, and continuation of our lives as we move forward. We will continue to partner with the City of Highland Park and other agencies in support of the community's recovery and resiliency efforts.
While people are at various stages of response right now, we understand that time will, in fact, offer solace and comfort to people at their individual times. We are committed to providing safe, orderly, and predictable school environments for our children and families when we come back together in August. Our commitment to safety and security was at the forefront of our planning far in advance of July 4, 2022.
Last night our Board held a special meeting to discuss security procedures, school building safety and security, and the use of personnel and equipment in this regard. We are grateful for the members of the community who spoke at public comment and who sent in email input for the Board and administration to consider. While we have been engaged in school safety & security discussions and communication for years, and while our District engaged in professional security audits in 2014, 2018, and again this year, we can always review, revise, refresh, and update our plans, protocols and procedures.
Prior to and after Uvalde’s situation, we have been making investments, just under two million dollars, as an example, the past year and a half, in physical security and social emotional (mental health) programming, upgrades, and practices. Since July 4th, we have been hyper focused on emotional wellness, mental health, healing, response, partnering with the community, and, of course, the reopening of our schools next month.
With this note, I am sharing what physical security and mental health measures are in place at all campuses. In addition, please know we are, in real time, considering a host of suggestions, options, and ideas though we are mindful of remaining steadfast and coherent in our communication, planning and implementation. Most importantly, I want to assure you that we have expert advice from a nationally recognized school security expert (whom we had engaged already in June) and we also have the commitment of support from the state and regional superintendents of schools to support us in identifying and implementing best practices in safety and security. We will make decisions based on best practices and advice from specialists.
We also have a strong and productive relationship with the local law enforcement agencies and personnel. We have a significant array of industry-recommended best practices already in place to keep our staff and students safe under our care.
In terms of physical security, what is already in place or already in process includes (but is not limited to) the following. We are highlighting some interventions in process right now. Please also keep in mind that, for obvious reasons, we do not disclose publicly all of our security measures or the details of our security procedures.
BluePoint Security Systems - pull stations at each building that instantly alert all people in the building and law enforcement at each campus
Secure Entry Vestibules - each campus has secure video entry with locked doors and we will be instituting a consistent practice of “double locks” so both the exterior and interior doors will require a “buzz in” (Summer 2022)
School Resource Officer (Highland Park police officer) dedicated to District 112
Surveillance Cameras -upgraded technology for exterior and interior cameras across all campuses with remote cloud access (Summer 2022)
Adding video surveillance signage for messaging and communication (Summer 2022)
Bulletproof and bullet-resistant materials in select areas
Completely upgraded security at Northwood and Edgewood
ALICE training (2019) and retraining (2022) for all personnel
Annual safety training exercises with local law enforcement and local school districts in the area
Comprehensive safety and security audit in 2018 -- new audit to take place 2022 from national security organization (recommendations implemented after 2018 audit).
We are investigating other potential physical security measures and we’ll be discussing them with the Board at upcoming meetings (Summer 2022)
Investigation of implementation of additional door sensor & locking systems beyond what is currently in place (Summer 2022)
Exploration of partnerships with local organizations
Accelerating meetings with local law enforcement, local school districts, national security expert
As many in our community have already recognized, mental health and social-emotional awareness are key security components in the school environment. In terms of mental health measures that are in place, we are already doing the following (including but not limited to):
Dedicated social workers and psychologists at each campus (increases in FTE) (Summer 2022)
Universal Social Emotional Learning Screener for students
Social-Emotional Learning curricular resources - Second Step, Sown to Grow, Calm Classroom
Community Partnerships with organizations including OMNI, Rosecrance, Family Service of Lake County, Community The Anti-Drug (CTAD)
Staff training (ongoing)
Threat Assessment Teams and ongoing training
Parent education planned for this year (previously put on hold due to COVID)
Gaggle and Securely AI monitoring of Google Suite
Sensitive, responsive, and age-appropriate Active Shooter Training scenarios (eg - no surprises, extra counseling staff on hand, etc.).
Planning parent and staff workshops on trauma (Summer 2022)
Staff welcome institute day speaker on August 22 Psychologist Dr. Doug Bolton (Summer 2022)
With this note, we are sharing some links to resources to help speak with children about violence and traumatic events. We’re going to be preparing toolkits for our staff prior to the start of school as well. We will continue to develop family resources and staff resources as we approach the start of the school year.
A team from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), including state superintendent of education, Dr. Carmen Ayala, visited with our Cabinet team. They will be connecting us with SEL resources for staff, students, and families and for students. There is a partnership with Lurie’s Children’s Hospital that we will explore.
As a general reminder, if you have any weapons in your home, be sure to follow safety and security standards and protocols -- we must prevent access to weapons to the best of our abilities.
If you are aware of social/emotional warning signs, REPORT THEM, please! Various reporting options are listed:
Call 911 when there is an emergency, and call the non-emergency dispatch number for Highland Park Police at 847-432-7730.
Visit https://www.communitytheantidrug.org/resources/text-a-tip/ to learn more about Text-A-Tip and access the app. Text 224HELP to 1-844-823-5323
Other text lines are shared at https://www.nssd112.org/domain/1267
We are exploring STOPit, another reporting and safety solution.
Lastly, we are inspired by the generosity and kindness of others throughout this community. Please continue to support each other as it assists us in sustaining the strength to carry on for the nearly 3,700 students and 550 staff members who will begin school next month. We are proud to work in Highland Park and Highwood. If you need counseling resources or if you were a victim of the July 4 incident, call 211 from Lake County to get the help and support you need. Please also visit the State’s Attorney resources for Highland Park at the following link: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/ILLAKE/bulletins/3202ad5
This letter is not the end of our communications, it’s a comprehensive reminder to share with you that our schools are places of joy, happiness, safety, and youth. We are fortifying our campuses and we are seeking the expertise of professionals in this area to make any needed or recommended changes. We will heal as a large community, and we will run our PK-8 school district with the aim of creating safe, welcoming, and orderly environments for all students and staff, and visitors.
Please stay connected with District 112 so that we can continue to inform you, update you, and hear from you!
Michael Lubelfeld, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools