Safety Enhancement Updates from Superintendent Jones
Safety remains a top priority for Seattle Public Schools (SPS). Students are more likely to be successful when they feel safe and welcome at school. Please know my focus on student and staff safety and wellness is unwavering.
I have listened to your concerns and pain, both as a parent and superintendent of this great school district. I am proud of the progress made within the first 90 days since launching SPS’ three-tiered, safety initiative last fall. This work is part of the district’s long-established focus on safety and security for all students and staff.
SPS is strengthening partnerships, using community data, and continuing facility updates in our buildings to do the following:
- Conducting a safety review of SPS campuses
- Inviting safety leaders to the table to create community action teams
- Establishing a wellness advisory council comprised of mental health and wellness leaders from our community
A safety review of every campus is currently underway. This process will take time.
We started with our high schools. This work is a continuation of our safety and security reviews already conducted in our buildings. These reviews include our school building management and capital improvement teams.
One of the early recommendations coming out of the review process is the need to create consistent safety and emergency signage in our schools. Another is updating all building locks to be sure they can be activated from inside a room. The lock replacement project is already underway, and we are making progress on this update in our buildings.
Community Action Teams
A network of community action, safety, and civic leaders has been convened to improve the safety of our campuses and surrounding neighborhoods. These groups are currently reviewing data and assessing shared experiences across the district, the city, and community partners.
Our community action teams include SPS school leaders, the Seattle Police Department, the City of Seattle, and community groups and partners, particularly those offering before-and-after school enrichment opportunities.
We also have joined forces since November to listen to community members and groups. This type of engagement is essential to the mission of the safety initiative. Together, we are growing our partnerships with Seattle organizations to focus on supporting our students.
The SPS Wellness Council is bringing together health professionals, who have expertise in supporting the mental health and social-emotional needs of students.
Several small group meetings of psychologists, counselors, pediatricians, and social workers took place during the fall and winter.
While we are still early in our conversations, the wellness council is exploring the creation of a citywide, youth mental health response protocol.
In these first stages of the safety initiative, I have been impressed with the people who have stepped up for our students and staff.
I appreciate the tactical ideas that already have emerged. These ideas and suggestions will help us move from this early phase to establishing a system of increased safety in our schools.
In March, during my next update to the community, I will share more progress and recommend the next steps.
Please remember, we all play a role in school safety. You can use the SPS Safe Schools Hotline 206-252-0510 to report any threats to SPS schools. This phone number is managed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Dr. Brent Jones
Seattle Public Schools