Safety in Mukilteo schools l Mukilteo Schools

By Dr. Marci Larsen, Superintendent | Apr 04, 2018

I wrote a letter to all of our staff members last week that outlines the things we are doing in our schools to improve safety and security. In that message, I had to admit that in my many years in education as a student, a teacher, and as a principal, we practiced two kinds of drills: earthquake and fire.

We didn’t conceive that there could be any other kind of threat to our students and staff members while at school. But, times have changed.

In last month’s column, I told you about some of the safety and security programs at our schools and mentioned that the best deterrent to having a tragic event at a school like the one experienced recently in Florida is for people to say something if they see or hear of anything that seems suspicious.

The past month or so has been challenging for many of us in the Mukilteo School District. The news of the foiled plan to attack one of our schools has shaken many of our students, their parents, and a large number of our staff members, especially considering the fact that it comes less than two years after the tragic shooting in our community and so many other sad incidents involving our students.

As a result, we have received many comments that offer a wide range of opinion about ways to improve the safety and security of our schools.

As I mentioned last month, our efforts to improve safety and security fall into three areas: physical and facility security systems, training to assure there will be a proper response in the event of an emergency, and providing social and emotional support that can perhaps prevent a tragic event from occurring and help students and staff members cope with events if they do happen.

Those three areas are the subject of a three-part series of presentations being given to the members of our school board.

The first was last week when the executive director of support services told the board members about physical security systems in our schools.

She said that the construction bond proposal that was approved by voters in 2014 included $2 million for safety and security improvements, such as security cameras and an improved emergency radio system.

A presentation on April 16 will focus on staff safety guidelines, training, and procedures, and a presentation on May 14 will be about social and emotional supports.

One of the nation’s leading experts in supporting students and staff members at times of crisis and loss has met with some of our school district staff members yesterday and today.

Dr. David Schonfeld, the director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement at the University of Southern California, will give a community presentation at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Kamiak Performing Arts Center about identifying common adjustment difficulties in children following a crisis and how to promote effective coping strategies.

We are also working with a company called Safe Havens International to identify things that can be done to improve the safety of our schools, which includes reducing everyday hazards in playgrounds and parking lots. Representatives from that organization are now taking a close look at our facilities and our procedures to see what recommendations they can make.

School safety and security have always been a priority in Mukilteo schools, but you can be assured that we are always looking for fresh ways to improve the practices and protocols that we follow at our schools.

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