What’s Really Important
February 23, 2018
If you’ve been a longtime reader of this blog through the years, we’ve touched on topics of great importance. From strategic planning to innovative practices in teaching and learning; we’ve really covered a lot of ground. Upon reflection, over all of the important, relevant topics addressed, one topic must take precedent; must be most important. It can’t be a tie or even a close second to any other issue concerning schools. That topic is safety in schools.
Academics become meaningless if even one child is harmed. District 142 has been and always will put your child’s safety and security first. It is what is really important.
The news and online information sources, particularly recently, are filled with stories of violence. Safety in schools has been politicized, argued, debated; which is not the purpose of my writing to you today. My intent is to declare, unequivocally, that the safety of our students — your children — comes first! Additionally, we are committed to taking any and all steps to ensure safety and to protect the human beings who come to work to teach, administrate, volunteer, and learn. All of the people within schools are important and we, as a district, will always be looking to improve upon the measures we are taking to earn the trust that our community has placed in us. That said, we consistently (not just due to recent events) review and refine the safety/crisis plan we have in place.
To this end, we maintain a very open and close relationship with all first responders in our school community. From renewing partnership agreements with the Oak Forest Police Department, that materialize in face-to-face meetings and real-life trainings, we ensure that safety processes are congruent, effective, and implementable. Throughout the rest of the school year (and beyond), Forest Ridge School District 142 will continue to actively improve our crisis/safety plan, engaging in dialogue with surrounding districts, receiving additional training and support, communicating with all stakeholders, and working closely with the Oak Forest Police Department.
We recognize that the District 142 school community extends beyond our classrooms, hallways, doors, and campuses. Ensuring safety and security within the school setting requires an awareness outside and beyond the school confines. The reach of information and influences that have a direct effect on school safety now extends to online sources, social media, and even cell phone communications. In light of this changing social landscape and the strong effort of support and partnership, we ask that any information gathered from students, parents, educators, or social media in general that appears in any way to suggest violence toward schools, our kids or our community, be passed along to both the local authorities as well as school officials. This community information sourcing/sharing has proven hugely beneficial in various school districts as a way to have early detection of intention and possibly deterring violence.
If we stand together in a declaration that we INSIST on safe schools, it is our best chance, moving forward, to making lasting change toward the MOST important thing – safety!