Superintendent message regarding SAISD security

The message below was sent to all SAISD employees on Monday, Dec. 17, 2012

Dear SAISD Staff,

It is with a heavy heart that I write this message today. I am certain that I speak for all of us in SAISD when I say that many tears were shed this past weekend over what has happened in Newtown, Conn. I think President Obama captured our feelings with his comments to the media on Friday when he said “Our hearts are broken today, for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children and for the families of the adults who were lost.” Across the country, people are coming together, connecting in person and via social media, to try to make sense of this tragic event and to mourn the loss of so many lives…of so many children. Here in SAISD, we are flying our flags at half-staff through tomorrow as a mark of respect for the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims.


In the coming days, I am directing campus leaders to stand ready to provide guidance to parents about how to broach this difficult subject with their children and to reassure our parents and community members about the safety measures in our schools. It’s only natural that our reactions of the heart are accompanied by an instinctual reaction of heightened awareness, to guard and protect our own students and campus employees. We will do everything in our power to make sure we continue to keep our students, staff and volunteers safe.


This tragic event is a severe reminder of the importance of our safety procedures and our check-in and screening processes for all campus visitors. As you know, we prepare for crisis situations by requiring regular training for schools and staff and by reviewing our policies and procedures to determine if changes are needed to strengthen them. I encourage campus leaders and their staff to review their emergency plans to be sure it is fresh on their minds.


As you know, we also began further increasing security at our campuses last year, when we began installing key-card systems, under the most recent bond program, that require all visitors to be buzzed into the building during the school day. Bond money also is being used to install camera systems at many of our campuses.


In the aftermath of this type of tragedy, people often ask about added measures of security, such as metal detectors. Though it appears little could have been done to prevent the shooter in this particular tragedy, I think the answer to creating the safest setting possible lies in a strong culture of awareness, with diligence on the part of school principals and their faculty and staff to follow security procedures that are in place and to foster a school environment where students feel they can openly report suspicious activity.


We want to keep our SAISD family safe, and working together to ensure protocol is followed will go a long way toward ensuring that safety. I want to end this message on a note of remembrance, for the victims and the heroes, some of whom President Obama mentioned in his address last night during a vigil for the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims. It’s the “20 beautiful children” and “six remarkable adults” who I hope we will keep in our thoughts, among them the educators who acted with incredible bravery to protect their students, though they lost their own lives. Let us not focus on the evil that unfolded but rather on the “strength, resolve and sacrifice” that emerged.

 

Sincerely,
Dr. Sylvester Perez
Interim Superintendent