February 26, 2018
Dear District 230 Community,
The tragic news out of Parkland, Florida, and the news of violence that came before it, has heightened concerns related to school safety across the country and here in District 230. The School Board, administration and staff are dedicated to the safety and well-being of the students we serve. We believe it is important to take a moment to share with families and our community some points related to this very important topic. We believe relationships among all members of our community are at the center of maintaining a safe learning environment. And, we appreciate the support of our community as we work together.
Culture of Safety
Relationships among the adults and students in our schools are paramount in this conversation about safety. The responsibility for a safe learning environment lies with each member of our school community. School Board, administration, staff, students, parents and community members are committed to developing a school culture that looks out for each other. The school culture is strengthened by the notion that If we see something concerning, we say something. Relationships are built among students and staff so that everyone feels safe speaking up when concerned. Guidance and Dean staff are trained and prepared to assist those in need and to connect them with the appropriate resources available in our community. The Period 2 Advisory program builds connections between adults and students to strengthen open communication and a supportive environment. Our students’ advisors develop these meaningful relationships with students to ensure that every student has a trusted adult in the building. We also deliver a social and emotional learning curriculum during Period 2 that assists students in navigating the sometimes difficult teen years.
Safety Plans and Drills
Each of our schools works closely with local law enforcement to assure emergency plans are in place and that those plans are practiced by staff and students. First responders are regularly on site for safety drills and meet with administrators to debrief each drill. Outside safety experts have conducted safety audits of our campuses and we have implemented recommended procedures and facility improvements. We are in the process of conducting a follow-up safety audit as part of our ongoing efforts to maintain safe learning environments.
We are thankful for the strong relationships we have with local police including School Resource Officers at each of our schools. These full-time officers from the local police departments build relationships with students and staff so they are comfortable sharing information and learning about safety. These armed officers also provide a level of security to complement the Deans Office staff in our buildings. At the Board and District level, we also connect with local law enforcement through Community Connections meetings and S4 Summit presentations on safety topics. We are incredibly grateful for the strong support of Orland Park, Palos Hills and Tinley Park Police Departments along with other municipalities in our school district.
Student Demonstrations - Student Voice
We are aware of the numerous demonstrations across the country regarding school violence that are happening or are being planned in the upcoming weeks or months. We value our students’ voices and believe for some students peaceful and organized action can be powerful in expressing their beliefs and feeling a sense of control in what can otherwise seem like an out of control world. Our Principals facilitate discussions with student leaders to give voice to any planned demonstrations that focus on the support of school safety and are a positive reflection on our school community. To reiterate, these planned demonstrations are focused on giving students a voice in the safety of their school.
If a student demonstration should happen during school hours, our top priority - as always - will be to maintain a safe environment for all students . To accomplish this, we will adhere to the following guidelines should a student demonstration occur:
Students choosing to demonstrate during school hours will be encouraged to achieve their goals in a safe and positive way.
Students choosing not to participate in a protest will remain in class with their teacher.
Demonstration involvement will be students only.
Students will not be disciplined for engaging in a preannounced, peaceful and organized act of demonstration. School officials will coordinate with local law enforcement with regard to preannounced demonstrations to assist in the monitoring of any demonstration in order to ensure student safety.
Students who engage in unannounced and/or negative behavior will be subject to disciplinary action. For example, leaving campus during school hours is a violation of the rules and subject to consequences. School officials will immediately notify local law enforcement agencies to request assistance in the monitoring of any unannounced demonstration.
Social Media Response - We Need Your Help
We ask that you speak with your children about responsible use of social media. Especially in a time of heightened concern, posts or comments that allude to violence or that can be construed as a threat are taken even more seriously by law enforcement, school administration and others viewing posts. It is important to share information immediately with law enforcement and school administration in order for concerns to be immediately investigated. The spread of rumors and inaccurate information via social media can impede police and school investigations. Using good judgment in what students post or share is responsible digital citizenship.
Our commitment to the safety of our students and staff is always a top priority. Please know that extensive thought and planning is invested in maintaining a safe learning environment. We work closely with our community to build relationships and we communicate in a manner that maintains school safety and provides for the support and confidentiality of all involved. Working together, we can maintain learning environments where students will continue to feel safe and will grow.
Richard J. Nogal
School Board President
Dr. James M. Gay