September 21, 2022
As a school district, students and staff safety are a priority. While we hope never to be faced with a tragedy, the District has worked closely with our local law enforcement agencies to create policies and procedures to prepare, respond, and review a crisis. We do this by working closely with our local first responders and our District Crisis Team.
We all have a role in sustaining a safe school environment. You can always report things to your child's school and local law enforcement officials. If you or your child see something out of the ordinary or concerning, say something to personnel or law enforcement.
The communication I sent earlier, indicating a threat was not credible, may still generate questions from you or your child(ren). Here are some suggested points to emphasize if you talk with your child(ren) from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).
- Schools are safe places. School staff works with parents and public safety providers (local police and fire departments, emergency responders, hospitals, etc.) to keep you safe.
- The school building is safe because we practice and review procedures and partner with first responders. We all play a role in school safety. Be observant and let an adult know if you see or hear something that makes you feel uncomfortable, nervous, or frightened.
- There is a difference between reporting, tattling, or gossiping. You can provide important information that may prevent harm directly or anonymously by telling a trusted adult what you know or hear.
- Although there is no absolute guarantee that something bad will never happen, it is important to understand the difference between the possibility of something happening and the probability that it will affect you (our school community).
- Senseless violence is hard for everyone to understand. Doing things that you enjoy, sticking to your routine, and being with friends and family help us feel better and keep us from worrying about the event.
- Sometimes people do bad things that hurt others. They may be unable to handle their anger, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or suffering from mental illness. Adults (parents, teachers, police officers, doctors, faith leaders) work very hard to get those individuals help and keep them from hurting others. We all need to know how to get help if we feel upset or angry and stay away from drugs and alcohol.
- Violence is never a solution to personal problems. Students can be part of the positive solution by participating in anti-violence programs at school, learning conflict mediation skills, and seeking help from an adult if they or a peer are struggling with anger, depression, or other emotions they cannot control.
Thank you for your vigilance in keeping Austin Public Schools safe. As a district, we will continue to work with our local law enforcement agencies to ensure we are prepared to respond to a crisis should one arise. Please see your administrator, counselor, or mental health professional for additional assistance.
Dr. Joey Page, Superintendent
NOTE: High-profile acts of violence, particularly in schools, can confuse and frighten children who may feel in danger or worry that their friends or loved ones are at risk. They will look to adults for information and guidance on how to react. Parents and school personnel can help children feel safe by establishing a sense of normalcy and security and talking with them about their fears (NASP).