Superintendent Dr. Michael Bregy sent the following email to all D300 families and staff members at 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14:
In light of the tragic shooting event today at a Connecticut elementary school, I wanted to outline for you some of the steps that we take in D300 to minimize this type of risk and also provide you with tips in talking with children about school violence. This is certainly a deeply upsetting topic for all of us to consider, but we felt it was important to acknowledge the situation and provide you with some assurances.
First, on behalf of the entire D300 community, our prayers go out to the entire Newtown, Connecticut, community. Everyone there is either an emotional or physical victim, and our hearts ache for the lost lives and their families.
The following are tips in talking with children about this type of situation, as provided by the National Association of School Psychologists: http://www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/talkingviolence.pdf . The district will make psychologists and social workers available for any students who need assistance in processing this situation.
D300 takes the safety of our students, staff, and visitors extremely seriously. While there is no plan that can totally prevent a random act of senseless violence like this, our district has a school safety plan in place that has been developed in close partnership with law enforcement authorities and regularly practiced by our faculty and staff. The following are some features of our school safety plan:
• D300 employs a full-time District Safety Officer, Mr. Gary Chester, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who is a former police chief and fire chief with many years of experience in school safety. In Illinois, very few districts have a full-time security expert on staff.
• Through Mr. Chester's efforts, the district works closely with the numerous police, fire, and sheriff's departments throughout the district's 15 municipalities. These first responders have all been provided copies of our school floor-plans and have been trained on D300's internal processes, so that they know exactly where to go and what to expect within our schools in the case of an active shooter or other dangerous situation.
• Each year, everyone who works with our students receives training on how to handle the potential for a violent situation. This includes regular and substitute teachers, office and support staff, bus drivers, administrators, and others.
• Each year, D300 students and staff review and practice lockdown procedures.
• D300 schools are all equipped with video surveillance.
• D300 schools all require visitors to be buzzed-in for entry.
• Police liaison officers from the local police departments work in all of our high schools.
• A safety hotline is available that allows students and adults to provide anonymous tips, 24 hours a day, about weapons, violence, bullying, and drugs. The hotline number is 847.551.8477. Tips can also be sent via email toSafeSchoolTipLine@d300.org .
There always are lessons learned from each such incident across the nation. As those emerge for the Connecticut incident, our safety plan will be reviewed to implement those lessons learned, as appropriate.
Again, I want to emphasize that the safety and welfare of our students and staff is our top priority. Everyone who works with our students is trained in the prevention and handling of these types of situations. If you have any specific questions on the safety plan at your child's school, please feel free to contact the school office for more information. Thank you.
Dr. Michael T. Bregy