Dec. 16 Superintendent's Message

Dec. 16, 2012

Dear Olathe Public School Staff and Families:

As the tragedy of the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., continues to unfold, there are many questions from our community. We have heard from staff and families that are thankful and pleased with the seriousness with which we take safety and security here in the Olathe Public Schools. Others have had questions as to whether we are doing enough and sharing a variety of suggestions to improve our schools' safety and security. In addition, parents and staff have asked about how best to talk with their children about this tragedy and what role our teachers and staff will play in reassuring and supporting our children. We welcome and encourage all of these comments and suggestions. Please continue to share with your building principal. They in turn are being asked to submit to us all comments and suggestions.

We want to take this opportunity to share with you our current and ongoing efforts to address the safety and security of our schools and also to share with you resources specific to talking with your children about this tragedy.

No school district or public place can ever be completely immune from such senseless violence. However, the safety and security of our students and staff (including volunteers and visitors) has, and will remain, our top priority. While it would be irresponsible for us to share all details of our schools' security plans, we believe that it is important to share some of the more general and global safety measures that are in place (this is not an all-inclusive list).

General Measures:

  • Strong partnership with local law enforcement and fire/rescue
  • Full time district Safety and Security Manager
  • Building and District Crisis Manuals and Plans in place and reviewed annually at minimum
  • Specific safety protocols defined and articulated, including one for "an active shooter"
  • Crisis management team meetings and debriefs after all incidents
  • Safe and Civil Schools procedures
  • City Watch public notification system
  • Monthly safety drills
  • Building plans/footprints shared with law enforcement and fire/rescue

Daily Process and Procedures:

  • Alert and aware staff and administration
  • Active and engaged supervision
  • Strong relationships with students and families
  • Locked doors during school hours
    • Buzzer entry doors at all elementary schools
    • Safety "pinch" points at all middle and high schools
  • District staff ID system
    • Secondary schools – student photo ID system
  • Monitoring cameras
  • Radio systems
    • A districtwide critical incident management and coordination system with public safety access
    • An on-campus activity monitoring and coordination system
  • School Resource Officers at the middle and high schools

Safety and security does not rest with an individual, a facility, or the district alone. Safety is everybody's responsibility. We all play a vital role and we all must come together for this cause.

We are asking all staff and parents to remain vigilant related to school safety and security measures. We want our schools to remain welcome and inviting places for all students and families, but please understand that some of our safety and security measures may seem to cause inconvenience (showing ID, arrival and dismissal processes, etc.). We know that you share in our concern and our focus on safety and security.

Attached you will find tips from the National Association of School Psychologists on how to support and talk to our children about this tragedy. Please take a moment to review. We think everyone will find this to be helpful information.

We welcome and encourage your input and ask that you share such directly with your building administrator. We all continue to share our thoughts and prayers for those directly impacted by this tragedy in Connecticut.


Dr. Marlin Berry, Superintendent,

Olathe Public Schools