NPS Parent Update - June 11
Important information for parents
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Recently a group of concerned citizens held a demonstration at a Norman City Council meeting, protesting for change in the prioritization and implementation of policing in the community. Among their concerns is the presence of School Resource Officers (SROs) in our schools.
First and foremost, we are anti-racism at Norman Public Schools. We do not tolerate racism of any kind and it is imperative that we listen to concerns about this program and swiftly address any issues of racism or discrimination that may arise. It is also critical to understand that SRO programs are not created equal and that in Norman, our SRO program was specifically designed with two distinct goals: to protect all of our students and staff and build supportive relationships with our youth. In fact, I believe the relationship-focused service our SROs provide to our students can be a model for the kind of police reform that is being demanded across our nation. I also believe that without a doubt, our SROs make our schools safer.
I also know that any program can be improved. Each and every day in our schools we seek to be better, to do better, and to go above and beyond in service to students. We have extremely high expectations for our SRO program and I wholeheartedly believe these officers walk the halls of our schools with protection in their minds and empathy in their hearts. If this has not been your experience, I encourage you to contact administrators at your child’s school and let us know how we — in partnership with the Norman Police Department — can serve you better.
Our explicit and stated directive for these officers is to protect and support our students, not discipline them. Both Norman Public Schools and the Norman Police Department have agreed from the inception of this partnership that discipline or punishment is not a part of our officers’ role in our schools. We’ve worked closely with the police department to specifically outline these roles and to ensure discipline issues continue to be addressed by school administrators, rather than by police officers.
When it comes to safety, our SROs are an essential part of our plans to safeguard our students and staff. They stand between our schools and the dangers that exist in today’s world. In a time when school threats are far too prevalent, I believe our SROs help to provide the protection our students and staff deserve and their families require. We also work hand-in-hand with these officers every day to ensure our schools remain safe havens for our students so they can feel secure and focus on their education.
These highly trained and carefully selected officers must also complete extensive professional development programs specifically focused on working with youth and supporting students who have special needs. The speciality training they receive also focuses on dealing with students who suffer from mental health issues or who have experienced significant trauma. They are a critical resource for our counselors and a lifeline for our students.
Our officers take great care to serve as mentors and confidants for many students in times of need. They build powerful and even life-changing relationships with students and their families. I have seen firsthand the impact our officers have and it can be on par with that of a teacher, a counselor, a friend and in some cases, even a parent for a child who does not have one.
For example, an officer serving Whittier Middle School helped lead a weekly therapeutic support group for male students who have had difficulties in school. In one instance, the officer learned the reason one student did not comply with school rules to remove his hoodie was because he was embarrassed about his hair. The officer has since made arrangements for him and other students in need to receive free haircuts. Two officers at Norman North feel so strongly about keeping students safe they danced in the halls to promote the dangers of vaping while a Norman High officer consumed increasingly spicy hot wings while answering personal questions to connect with students. At Irving Middle School, an officer was recognized by local news media for going above and beyond for families in need by purchasing groceries and even personally purchasing and replacing tires on one family’s vehicle. And, a former high school senior even recognized an SRO as one of the most caring and influential people in her life. These are just a few examples of how these officers build relationships with our students and their families.
All that said, even with the best intentions and remarkable individuals serving in these roles, it is vital that we recognize the perspective of one is not the experience of all. We want every student who walks through our doors to feel safe, welcome and valued. I encourage you to let us know when this does not happen so we can immediately address the situation. At Norman Public Schools, we embrace each and every child in our schools and support our black students and families as we collectively seek to eliminate racism of any kind. We will continue to listen and learn as we strive for excellence in all we do for our students.
Dr. Nick Migliorino
Norman Public Schools
In-Person Graduation Ceremonies
From the beginning of the global pandemic and amidst all the shutdowns that have occurred over the last several months, we have remained committed to providing an in-person graduation ceremony for our seniors. We are now pleased to announce plans for these important events.
Norman North’s commencement ceremony will take place Friday, June 26, at 8 p.m. at Harve Collins Field. Norman High’s commencement ceremony will take place Saturday, June 27, at 9 a.m., also at Harve Collins Field. Gates will open one hour before each event.
A number of precautions will be taken to ensure appropriate social distance can be maintained. Each graduate will receive four tickets for family and friends. All attendees will be asked to RSVP and additional tickets will be provided if space allows. All attendees are encouraged to wear a mask or face covering and observe six feet of social distancing at all times, including while seated and while entering or exiting the venue. Please stay tuned for additional details and RSVP links from high school principals.
We plan to return to school in the fall and are excited to welcome our students and teachers back into our buildings. The Back-to-School Task Force is hard at work planning for next year. However, it is important for us to understand your preferences with regard to the upcoming school year. Your input is critical as we work toward putting plans in place that accommodate the wide variety of needs our students, staff members and their families may have. I encourage you to participate in the following survey, which will inform the task force as plans are finalized. Our goal is to share specific back-to-school details in July. Parents, please click here to complete this survey by Monday, June 15.
As a result of Covid-19, many families find themselves in circumstances that require greater flexibility. If you are thinking about transitioning your child to an online school this fall, we encourage you to consider NPS ExpandED, which is a rigorous education solution designed to provide students with the flexibility to complete coursework outside of traditional school buildings and also participate in extracurricular activities. You can learn more about this program at www.normanpublicschools.org/expanded.
Distance Learning Dashboard
Student Safety and Mental Health
Please remember that our school counselors remain available to serve students and there are a variety of resources available to those who are experiencing anxiety, depression and trauma. Also, we encourage you to help keep our students safe by anonymously reporting abuse, suicide risks, bullying and more to Norman Crimestoppers at 405-366-STOP or submit a tip online at www.p3tips.com/1323.