Dear SPS Students, Families, and Staff,
I feel the pain and frustration of our community in the wake of last week’s tragic death of one of our students. Like you, I continue to grieve the violence that occurred at Ingraham High School.
I, and my team, continue to provide additional support to the Ingraham community. Principal Floe will be holding an Ingraham community meeting next week. Ingraham families will receive a message directly from the school with details about the event.
For the wider SPS community, I am working with my leadership team to create an event for all families and students to join us in a conversation about school safety. You will receive more information about this event once it has been scheduled.
Safety remains a top priority for all of us at Seattle Public Schools. Keeping our schools secure is part of our daily work. Here are some of the safety and security measures our district is actively engaged in and work that will soon begin.
Building Safety and Support
Our work to ensure school buildings have updated security systems, entryways, and door locks continues. We have installed new inside locks on more than 4,000 classroom doors across the district.
We are currently working to add intercoms and cameras at school entryways.
The district has committed funding from the Building Excellence (BEX) V Capital Levy toward security resources and improvements. This work will help SPS reinforce data security and beef up school building access systems. View the list of BEX V projects that Seattle voters approved in February 2019.
The district security staff monitors alarms and responds to suspicious activities 24 hours a day. They quickly respond and coordinate with community emergency responders when an incident occurs.
The security team facilitates school drills with first responders.
Preparedness training provided by Safety and Security includes verbal de-escalation, conflict management, and critical incident management.
Our Coordinated School Health team provides support immediately following critical incidents. The health services team and employee assistance program help our schools respond to the emotional needs of staff, students, and families.
School and Community Partnerships for School Safety
Our schools have a safety plan developed in collaboration with the SPS Safety and Security Team.
Seattle Police Department and SPS Safety and Security meet regularly to discuss strategies aimed at reducing crime in and around schools, offer training opportunities, participate in drills, and enhance communication.
Our security team monitors trends related to school safety and security, working with our local community emergency responders to help prevent or mitigate incidents.
I am introducing three actions as part of a district-wide safety initiative that will:
- Complete a district-wide safety and security assessment.
- Establish a Community Action Team to help SPS determine immediate steps to improve school safety.
- Launch a child well-being council that will be led by nurses, pediatricians, psychologists, and others who have expertise in supporting mental health and social-emotional needs.
This fall, SPS and the educators’ union came together to finalize the 2022-25 collective bargaining agreement. That agreement included several services related to school supports including:
- Adds mental health support with an additional half-time social worker at each comprehensive K-8, middle, and high school this school year.
- Lowers the counselor-to-student ratio at our highest-need secondary schools.
Actions Families Can Take
Please talk with your student (as age-appropriate or appropriate for your family), about school and personal safety.
- Talking to children and teens about violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers
- Seattle Police Department Personal Safety Tips
- SPS Coordinated School Health Mental Health Resources
As with any school-related issues that are important to your family, you are always welcome to contact your local, state or federal representative. You can find your representatives by visiting Washington State Legislature District Finder website.
We all play a role in school safety. You can use the SPS Safe Schools Hotline 206-252-0510 to report any threats to SPS schools. This phone number is managed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
You can find additional resources and information on our district webpage.
We are SPS, and together we will continue to look out for one another.
Dr. Brent Jones
Seattle Public Schools