For those that were unable to attend the Council of PTAs School Safety Panel Discussion last week, we have provided an overview of the topics discussed.
First, we would like to thank our panelists; Allen Smith, GCISD Director of Emergency Management; Chief Michael Miller from the Colleyville Police Department; Sergeant Jason Keller, who leads the School Resource Officers for the Grapevine Police Department, and Jill Tate, who is a GCISD parent and was appointed by the Governor to sit on the Texas State School Safety Center Board.
We would also like to thank School Board Trustees, Becky St. John and Doug Noell along with GCISD’s Chief Operating Officer, Paula Barbaroux for being in attendance. Thanks also go out to Dr. Lance Groppel, Principal of Colleyville Heritage High School, for allowing us to host our event in the CHHS Lecture Hall.
The format for the evening was to have each panelist introduce themselves and explain their role with regards to school safety. We then opened up the floor for questions. Each question was answered thoroughly by one or more panelist. We did run out of time before we got to everyone’s question so we had a few questions that were turned in afterwards and we got back to each of those individuals with answers.
The high level topics and the general gist of the conversations are listed below:
- Bomb threats – questions were asked about the status of the investigation and how we would be notified when the caller was caught. Grapevine PD is leading the investigation and many other entities are involved, including the FBI. The type of phone the call was made from has made tracing difficult and the investigation crossed state lines. The entire panel was confident, however, that our children where never in danger. A public announcement will be made when the caller is caught.
- Communications – questions were asked about receiving notifications when there is an urgent situation. Where those notifications go and how many are received (email, text, phone, etc.) are determined by the settings in your Skyward account. The district ran a test of their emergency notification system on October 7th (the same day as our panel) and everyone in attendance had received at least one notification. If those notifications did not go to the contacts you would like for them to, you should review your Skyward settings and contact your campus secretary if you cannot figure them out. The district is also reviewing their policies around who gets notified for which issues (for example, when there is a situation on one campus, should just those families be notified or should all district families be notified).
- Standard Response Drills – Allen Smith passed out the Standard Response Drills flyer and went through the protocols for each of them. The flyer is attached below and the drills are explained briefly there. Mr. Smith emphasized that all drills are done during the first two weeks of school so that everyone in the building is well prepared. He even conducts training with our substitute pool. The drills are handled very professionally so as not to alarm the children. All drills are usually completely executed within 3 minutes. Chief Miller also said that he was impressed with how professional and “textbook” those drills are conducted. One person asked if parents could receive information about the drills prior to them being conducted so that they could be prepared to discuss them with their children in the event that the kids have questions or concerns afterwards. It was generally thought that that was a good idea and it is being taken under advisement.
- Relationship building – there were several conversation threads around the importance of building relationships. Relationships between the schools and the police departments, relationships between the police departments and the communities, between the schools and the communities, and between the kids and school personnel, including school resource officers. Better relationships keep our community safer. The school personnel and the SROs are making a concerted effort to be a positive influence in kids lives so that the they will feel comfortable talking to them if something is wrong. The police departments are also making it a point to spend time in and around the schools- having lunch, being there for drop off and pick up, and filling out their reports in school parking lots, etc. so that they can be seen and known.
- Commitment to safety – There were several comments made regarding the district’s and the police departments’ commitment to school safety. Jill Tate and Sergeant Keller both indicated that they conduct safety reviews around the state and, in their opinion, GCISD is at the forefront of safety protocol statewide. Ms. Tate said she is very grateful that her child attends school in GCISD and feels that he is very safe here. Many audience members expressed their appreciation to the district and the panel for their focus and efforts on keeping children safe.
We would like to thank all those that came out for the event and participated in the discussion. If you have any suggestions for future Community Discussions that the Council should host, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.