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Tahoma, Kent release statements in response to Newtown shooting
The Tahoma and Kent school districts have released statements in response to the Newtown shooting last Friday.
Statement from Superintendent Mike Maryanski:
The horrific violence that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut on Dec. 14 affects each of us. Our hearts go out to the families of those who were killed or injured.
We are thankful to be part of a community that cares deeply about its children. We know that if your children have questions or concerns about their safety parents and family will be there to reassure them. We will do the same. Our counselors are prepared to help our children if they are struggling with the news of this terrible event. Please click here for suggestions and guidance for talking to young people who are dealing with how to respond to violence such as this.
Parents have contacted us to ask about the safety of their children at school. Our schools have emergency procedures in place for a variety of situations and we work closely with our law enforcement partners. Incidents such as today’s tragedy cause all of us to be reflective, including those who oversee school safety procedures. Your child’s safety is paramount and we will continue to do our best to make school a safe place to be. We will conduct a district-wide school safety review soon to determine whether there are other steps we can take to improve security. In the meantime, if you have specific concerns about school safety, please contact your school’s principal.
Statement from Superintendent Edward Lee Vargas
Dear KSD Families,
I want to reach out to you and share some thoughts regarding the recent tragedy in Connecticut.
First, let me say that as a father, I was impacted profoundly by the senseless deaths of innocent children. I cannot imagine the sorrow being felt by the families in Newtown, but my sympathies rest with them and I pray their community and school leaders will provide the guidance and strength they now need. As the Superintendent of our district, much of my emotion had to be put on hold Friday as staff and I focused on helping our students, schools, and parents cope with this horrific tragedy. The nature of random incidents like these can make us all feel very vulnerable and it is natural to want to know that our own school and community are doing all it can to protect our children from harm. I want to personally reassure you that the safety and well-being of your child is of the utmost importance to us at KSD and that we have done and will continue to do all we can to insulate our students from danger.
Below you will find information about our safety and security procedures here in the Kent School District. In addition, included are some ideas about how you can help your child deal with this tragedy as well.
As a community and as a school district, we all share the responsibilities and concerns about keeping our children safe. I hope the information below reinforces the trust you have in our systems and in our schools. You will be hearing more about this in the days and months to come but for now, please know that your child’s safety is, has been, and always will be our number one priority.
KSD Safety Procedures
The following precautionary measures in place:
- The Kent School District has a great collaboration with local authorities including police, fire, and other first responder services. The district and schools rehearse situational response and precautionary procedures regularly.
- Each school has a very detailed emergency response plan that is tailored to that school’s specific needs and location and is constantly updated to meet changing threat levels.
- Lockdown drills are regularly conducted at all KSD schools plus several other drills that cover possible scenarios such as fire, flood, and earthquake, etc. During intruder drills, a lockdown is announced, classrooms and hallway doors are locked, blinds are closed, lights are turned off and students are required to sit away from doors and windows. 911 is called and police, fire, and our own safety service professionals respond immediately.
- KSD Safety Services Department is led by a Lt. Commander of the Kent Police Department and a KSD Assistant Superintendent. The department has a full time manger and a number of well-equipped and highly trained uniformed safety officers as well as fully deputized police officers.
- Security procedures are reviewed and updated regularly. For example - Meeker Middle School just practiced an intruder drill in which a KSD officer pretended to be an intruder. The officer entered the school without a badge and the school staff responded accordingly by recording information on the intruder and going through the motions of requesting assistance.
- Local law enforcement and Kent School District participate in “active shooter” trainings each year. This is scenario-based training so they know how to respond if someone comes into a school with a gun or intent on any other violent act.
- KSD has detailed emergency procedures in place for a variety of scenarios and conduct training sessions annually.
- KSD Emergency Response Information flip charts are designed to be in every common area and classroom. The chart has instructions on what to do during a lockdown.
The most important safety and security assets are KSD staff. The Kent School District is made up of over 3,300 well trained and caring professionals who put student safety first and are vigilant in their efforts to identify, report, and respond appropriately to dangerous situations.