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It's a situation no one wants to think about — but it is our reality. With recent school shootings in other states, as well as threats at some of our own schools in the Douglas County School District (DCSD), it seems appropriate to talk about the processes we have in place to keep our students and staff safe every day in our buildings.
We are an incredibly large district: 89 schools — 68,000 students — 8,800 employees. It is our duty to be ready to respond to any concern or threat at a moment's notice. We partner with four different law enforcement jurisdictions in Douglas County: the police departments in Castle Rock, Lone Tree and Parker, as well as the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.
As part of that partnership, local law enforcement provides a School Resource Officer (SRO) for each of our high schools, as well as School Marshal Officers (SMO) who make multiple unannounced security visits to our elementary and middle schools every day. Additionally, we have campus security specialists stationed at our middle and high schools.
The DCSD Safety and Security team monitors our schools and facilities around the clock. They partner with our schools to conduct safety drills, install security cameras and monitoring systems, and review current safety procedures and update them as needed.
Every threat is investigated
Anyone can report a concern or potential threat any time, day or night. It truly takes all of us to keep our students safe! Our students and staff know they can use the Text-a-Tip app on the cell phones. If you are a parent or community member, you can contact Safe2Tell at 1-877-542-7233. This is an anonymous way to share a concern or potential threat.
What happens next
When a concern or threat is received, there is an instant response. The DCSD Safety and Security team, in partnership with local law enforcement, immediately launches an investigation. In many cases, the concern or threat is determined to be unfounded or non-credible, meaning there is no concern for the well-being or safety of our students and staff.
There is a lot of work that goes into determining that a concern or threat is unfounded. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not! We are committed to investigating each and every concern or threat that is brought to our attention. That is our responsibility and our duty — to keep our children safe.
There are times when the situation escalates — we may not be able to determine whether or not a threat is credible right away — or, in a worst-case scenario, it is determined to be a credible threat.
Behind the scenes
School and district administration supports the investigation and prepares parent communication. This takes time. It is nearly impossible to compete with the speed of social media, as we are committed to sharing up-to-date, confirmed and accurate information. We want our parents to know as much about the situation as we are able to share. There are times when we cannot say as much as we would like, as we do not want to jeopardize a law enforcement investigation in any way — especially when it involves the safety of our kids.
But know this: We are committed to keeping our students, staff and community safe. And we are committed to sharing as much information as we can, as quickly as we can.
It truly takes us all working together to protect our kids. So please remember, if you have a concern, let someone know — whether it is a school administrator, law enforcement, or Text-a-Tip/Safe2Tell.
Erin Kane is the interim superintendent of the Douglas County School District.
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