Seattle Public Schools

June 2024 Safety and Well-being Update

Community violence deeply impacts our students, educators, and families. Losing any student to gun violence is tragic and unacceptable.

The violence we are witnessing is heartbreaking, but we must not surrender our collective power to make change. Recovering from tragedy and ensuring the safety of our school community is challenging, but it is crucial work. By supporting each other and focusing on proactive measures, we can create a safer, stronger community for our students.

SPS is committed to enhancing school safety through ongoing improvements and strong partnerships. We have made significant progress and continue to adapt our strategies to meet the evolving needs of our communities. Our dedication to protecting students and staff remains unwavering as we strive to create a safe and welcoming environment for everyone.

Reporting Safety Concerns with Mobile App and the Safe Schools Hotline

One of our most important practices is encouraging students, staff, and community to “see something, say something.” The SPS Safety and Security team continues to receive hundreds of tips, enabling them to proactively assess and address potential threats.

Threats of school violence should be reported right away to school staff, through the Safe Schools Hotline, or the new mobile app.

Please use this universal link to download the app on your mobile phone. You may also search “Seattle Public Schools” in your phone’s app store. For middle and high schools, users may select their school. All school communities may use the district app to report concerns and read updates.

The Safe Schools Hotline can be used to report any threats to SPS schools. It is managed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The hotline phone number is 206-252-0510.

Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Police Department

As our community continues to experience violence and safety concerns, many have raised questions about the collaboration between our district and the Seattle Police Department (SPD).

Rest assured that SPS and SPD are working in close coordination as our teams jointly assess and respond to safety incidents. Police officers work with school teams on our campuses as needed for response and have routinely provided emphasis patrols in school neighborhood during periods of heightened concern.

During the past year, SPD and district staff have jointly visited and inspected our secondary school sites to assess risk and plan for officer access when needed.

In addition, community members have inquired about the return of School Emphasis Officers (SEO) or School Resources Officers (SRO) to SPS campuses. SPS staff and city officials are entering into active discussions about how SEOs and SROs could potentially fit into an ongoing program of safety improvements. This discussion assumes SPD and SPS will engage students and the community before final decisions are made.

Safety Program Improvements

Our ongoing safety improvements are centered on Neighborhood Safety Through Collaboration, Aligning Safety and School Health, and Consistent Building Safety Standards.

School leaders, Seattle city officials, local businesses, SPD, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and community work together to respond to incidents, analyze data, and identify areas needing more support.

We heard your feedback expressing the need for expanded mental health resources. We are ensuring resources reach students through coordinated district safety and health teams.

The Building Safety Standards initiative continues to prioritize enhancing the physical safety of school buildings and improving safety practices. This effort results from a comprehensive review and collaboration with community advisors and is part of the safety initiative announced after the Ingraham incident.

All building locks are being upgraded to ensure they can be activated from inside a room. This work is nearly complete. Several schools have received upgrades to building access controls, safety camera systems, outdoor fencing, and windows. We have also created consistent safety and emergency signage in our schools to ensure building operations are aligned when activating safety procedures.

While the improvements above make a significant change in the safety profile within our buildings, this year has seen an escalation of exterior threats, both on our campuses and beyond.

For the start of the 2024-25 school year, we will implement additional safety measures across schools experiencing heightened community safety threats. Potential improvements include closing campuses during lunch, increasing security personnel, and partnering with community-based organizations experienced in preventing youth violence. These measures aim to ensure the perimeters and passageways to our schools are as safe as possible.

Thank you for your continued advocacy for the safety and well-being of our students. We are all working toward the same goal, and your feedback is vital in helping guide our decisions. Please reach out to us with your concerns or ideas. Together, we can work toward a safer community for our students and staff.

Sincerely,

Superintendent Brent Jones
Seattle Public Schools

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