Dear WGSD Family:
Like many of you, my heart remains heavy for the entire Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School community, especially those who lost loved ones. It sickens me that a senseless act of violence can forever change the lives of so many. My continued thoughts and prayers are with their community.
At the Board of Education meeting this week, Student Services Director John M. Thomas presented an update on school security. We understand that the topic of safety is on the minds of our community and I’d like to take this opportunity to share some details about safety in our district.
Please be assured that student and staff safety is our top priority. Our administrative team began discussing, analyzing and taking training on this topic well before the latest tragedy in Florida. At this time, in concert with local law enforcement, we are re-examining our practices and procedures to see where we can improve and enhance school security. There is always more that we can do, and we’re committed to doing what we can to help children, faculty, and community feel safe when in our schools.
What follows are some of our current practices, some of which are being revisited or reinforced, and some which have been recently initiated. Please know that this is not an exhaustive list nor does it include all the details.
- Our school counselors and social workers daily work to support the social and emotional needs of students and families. These staff members also help families connect with community resources to help them.
- All schools here have adopted programs and/or initiatives to build positive cultures within their buildings. Each of our schools places a priority on creating a caring community where children are connected and feel valued at school.
- The district has two school resource officers from the Webster Groves Police Department. One works at the High School and one is at Hixson Middle School. In addition, the Rock Hill Police Department has an active and intentional presence at and near the schools in that city.
- The Webster Groves Police Department has provided active shooter training for all staff members annually.
- WGSD, in conjunction with the Kirkwood School District and area private schools, meets regularly with local police departments to discuss safety.
- The school district will install a buzzer system with a camera at both Webster Groves High School and the central office.
- The district is inspecting interior doors in all schools to see where improvements can be made.
- High School administrators are meeting with all students in classes next week to talk about safety and what students can do to help.
- The district has installed the Raptor system for screening all school visitors.
- The district has established a hotline and a tip line on its app for the community to report any concerns related to school safety.
- District administrators will attend a second safety meeting (in 2 weeks) at EdPlus with administrators from across the area as well as law enforcement representatives to collaborate on best practices related to school security.
- Administrators are discussing ways to improve everything related to safety including consistency with building-level practices (ex: buzzer systems) and reporting facility concerns which affect school security (ex: intercom not working).
I can assure you as your superintendent, and as the father of a child in our wonderful school system, district staff and I will be proactive in our efforts to create a learning environment where our children and staff feel safe and secure at all times.