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Superintendent's Statement in Response to Broward County School Shooting

February 15, 2018

Dear parents, students, employees and community members,

Following the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., I wanted to share an overview of the various security measures Polk County Public Schools has in place to protect its students and employees.

The most visible security measure you likely notice is the 45 school resource officers and deputies we have on our campuses. These individuals provide security and become integral parts of the school community, helping us to be proactive in creating safe learning environments and swiftly respond to threats.

Working in conjunction with our law enforcement partners, Polk County Public Schools also regularly conducts heightened security, lockdown, and “run, hide, fight” drills to prepare students and staff members to respond to numerous scenarios, including active shooters. These are in addition to fire and severe weather drills.

Additionally, we continually make safety upgrades, including fencing and single-entry/buzzer systems, at our more than 150 school sites. We prioritize facilities projects that will ensure a greater level of safety for our students and employees.

We also conduct our “See Something, Say Something” program throughout the school year. This program provides information to students that encourages them to be aware of their surroundings on campus and report any changes in behavior, suspicious activity, or other security concerns to school staff members.

The district also uses a system to monitor students’ district-issued email addresses and documents stored on the district’s domain. This system monitors for threats of violence or bullying. When such threats are detected, members of our Safe Schools staff are notified.

In response to yesterday’s shooting, our law enforcement partners have increased their presence at our school sites. You may have noticed this during drop-off or pick-up. We are most grateful to our local law enforcement agencies for their diligence and commitment to keeping our school sites safe.

We’ve also issued information to our principals on how to reassure students, limit students’ exposure to news coverage of the tragedy, and encourage students to report any safety concerns they may have. Our guidance counselors are also on heightened alert and ready to assist students who may need someone to talk to during this difficult time. Our Student Services personnel, including counselors, psychologists and social workers, are also conducting assessments of students who have previously made threats that involved a moderate or high risk of school violence. They are assessing whether those students have proper forms of support or need additional resources, with the aim of keeping our campuses as safe as possible.

As a parent myself, I know how troubling it is to watch the tragic images coming out of a shooting so close to home. It is natural to wonder, “What if that happened here?” I can assure you that we are working hard every day to safeguard our campuses and protect our children from harm. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact your school principal.

Superintendent Jacqueline M. Byrd