Dear CCSD Families,
Our hearts are with Uvalde.
And just as after Sandy Hook and Parkland, we know that this tragedy not only has filled you with the same heartbreak, but also with anger and worry.
After the Sandy Hook school shooting, we brought together a committee made up of our CCSD School Police and law enforcement and public safety leaders from throughout our community, as well as educators and parents. Together, they reviewed our safety plans and made recommendations for improvement.
We implemented those improvements, which expanded upon our safety measures already in place.
We conducted another review after Parkland, with a similar process of recommendations for improvements and implementation.
We will review our safety measures again this summer. We began this conversation yesterday, and this week, we will have heightened security measures in effect in response to the tragedy. These will include an increased police presence in cooperation with our community law enforcement partners, vigilance in admitting visitors and staff checks of building doors to ensure they are properly locked.
Please know that our expansive safety measures include, but are not limited to:
• Our CCSD School Police Department, which is made up of POST certified, armed, deputized officers specifically trained in school safety. Our department maintains strong partnerships and mutual aid agreements with the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office and all other law enforcement and public safety departments in our community. These agencies regularly train together to be prepared for a school shooting.
• Safety plans, which are in place for every school and annually reviewed by our police department’s emergency management facilitator.
• Code Red drills, which are conducted in all schools to ensure students, teachers and support staff know what to do in an active shooter emergency.
• Camera buzz-in systems, which are installed at front entrances allowing front office staff the ability to screen visitors before entry.
• Security foyers, which are in place to prevent visitors from accessing the school beyond the front office unless granted access by staff.
• Emergency alert badge and/or panic button systems and PA systems, which allow for immediate reporting of emergencies to police and schoolwide emergency communication.
• The Vector Alert system, which allows for students, parents, teachers and staff and community members to report safety concerns, with the option to do so anonymously.
• The School Messenger system, which allows for immediate communication, by email, text and phone, to all parents and guardians.
• As part of our CCSDcares initiative, we implemented programs focused on supporting students struggling with mental health issues including thoughts of harming themselves and others. As part of these programs, we have hired two student support mental health specialists, trained staff to better identify students in crisis for referral to them, and strengthened our partnerships with community mental healthcare providers.
We are dedicated to both being prepared for a crisis, and to taking steps to help prevent a crisis from happening.
Thank you for your continued support. If you want to help the families of the Uvalde victims, more information is online at https://www.gofundme.com/c/act/donate-to-texas-elementary-school-shooting-relief
Dr. Brian V. Hightower
Superintendent of Schools