PUSD adopts school safety resolution

By: 
CAROLYN DRYER, The Glendale Star Editor

Monica Ceja-Martinez
President, Peoria Unified
School District Governing Board

The Peoria Unified School District Governing Board passed a resolution at its Dec. 12 regular meeting regarding mental health and school safety.
PUSD Superintendent Linda Palles Thompson said, “Safety is paramount and is one of our main areas of focus in our district’s Strategic Plan. We want to be sure that we are doing all we can to prevent a situation from ever happening, and to be well-prepared on how to respond should we ever need to do so. This Safety Resolution is a step in the right direction.”
PUSD Governing Board President Monica Ceja-Martinez shared the following correspondence she received Dec. 11 from Catherine Broski, field director of March for Our Lives Arizona.
“Dear Board Member Ceja-Martinez,
“Meg shared the good news with me that the mental health and school safety resolution was passed! Congratulations, and thank you for working with us to be able to incorporate some of our ideas and clauses in addition to yours.
“This was the first school board resolution passed statewide that was proposed and/or influenced by March For Our Lives Arizona organizers, so thank you for sharing in that journey and accomplishment with us! Many students in our organization have read the Peoria resolution since it has been passed at the meeting, and we all agree that it is very well written. Do we have the permission of you and the Peoria Unified School Board to use some of that same language in the resolutions we are continuing to pass? I am not familiar with the procedure for something like this, so I wanted to ask you directly.
“Please let me know as soon as possible.”
Ceja-Martinez issued the following statement about the school safety resolution:
“Student safety and well being is at the core of the Peoria Unified Strategic Plan.  Every pillar of the Strategic Plan is rooted in student safety and well-being. Mental health plays a critical role in student safety and well-being, as does every type of health.
“The Student Safety and Well Being Resolution is just one of the many ways the governing board and the district staff have publicly demonstrated our commitment to our students and our community.
“For me, the resolution declares, I know the problem and I am committed to addressing it. This is not a new commitment for me. I have been advocating for adequate resources for all students.
“This became very clear to me in 2013, my last year as a teacher in PUSD. That year the state Legislature made deep cuts to education, specifically to public school districts. Our governing board chose to reduce support staff and student services. This was devastating to the most vulnerable students who were most often the students with the greatest needs.
“I spent the past five years making sure these students were not forgotten. Our resolution does just that and takes it a step further. Our resolution includes parents, family and community. We know that in order to support the whole child, we need everyone on board and we want all hands on deck. We are offering support to the whole community in whatever ways we are able; in the same way that parents, families and community members have supported us through a tough decade.
“The resolution was approved because student safety and well-being is a priority to all governing board members. We may have differences of opinion on how to keep our communities safe and well, but the differences of opinion have led to robust debates, development of strategies we had not considered before and a deeper commitment to our shared goals.
“Thank you again for reaching out and bringing awareness to such an important topic.”
The school safety resolution follows.

School Safety
• Safety is the number one priority in the Peoria Unified School District.
 
School Resource Officers

The Peoria Unified School District has long-standing relationships with the city of Glendale and city of Peoria police departments to ensure the safety procedures we have in place are met with their approval and expertise. We are also proud to partner with both of these police departments to provide School Resource Officers on all seven high school campuses. These SROs establish relationships at their respective feeder elementary schools and both Glendale and Peoria police departments will increase patrol in the immediate area at a school site, should they require it.
 
School emergencies Emergency Operations Plan
Peoria Unified has a comprehensive Emergency Operations Plan that addresses school crisis situations.
Peoria Unified administrators have been trained and drill on each type of emergency situation – with and without students present. The district has a strong relationship with all local municipalities to ensure our Emergency Operations Plan is up-to-date and thorough. The plan is updated annually to allow the best outcome in the event of a crisis, with guidance and oversight by the police departments that serve our district.
 Each school site will conduct the following practice with students and staff:
o Monthly evacuation (fire) drills
o Two lockdown drills per school year
o Two shelter-in-place drills per school year
o Two bus evacuation drills per year
At the discretion of the site supervisor, drills may or may not be communicated to parents in advance.
To maintain the district’s laser focus on student and staff safety, specific details within the Emergency Operations Plan are not shared with the public.
 
Shelter-in-Place
The shelter-in-place protocol provides safe refuge for students, staff and visitors at the school. This might include a situation taking place in the community, near the proximity of the school or a biohazard situation. During a shelter-in-place, students and staff will remain indoors with the doors locked, as directed by either law enforcement or the school principal, although the educational learning environment may proceed as usual.
A Shelter-in-Place may be used for the following incidents:
o Bee swarm, assault/fight on campus, police activity in the community, social media threat, etc.
 
Lockdown
Lockdowns may be issued in situations involving dangerous intruders or other incidents that may pose a threat to a student or staff’s immediate safety. During a lockdown, all interior and exterior doors will be locked. Parents and visitors will not be allowed on campus during a lockdown.
A Lockdown may be used in the following incidents:
o Intruder, violent parent or guest, weapon on campus, social media threat, bomb threat, etc.
 
Evacuation and relocation

The district’s evacuation protocol includes everything from evacuating from a room to another room – evacuating from one building to another – evacuating from a building to the school grounds – or evacuating off-site to an alternate location.
An evacuation may be used in the following incidents:
o Fire, bomb threat, fire, gas leak, power outage, suspicious package, etc.
In the event of an off-site evacuation, the district will implement its Reunification Plan and families will receive communication from the school district, advising them of the location and area in which they can pick up their child. Please note that proper identification will be required to further ensure a child’s safety.
The Emergency Operations Plan includes specific guidelines for relocating students with disabilities and non-English speaking students.
 
Communication during a school emergency

Parents will be notified during a school crisis or shortly thereafter, depending on how long the event lasts. It is critically important that parents follow the district’s protocol in the event of an emergency. The school will not answer their phone during an emergency. Parents and visitors will not be allowed on campus until the campus has been deemed safe.
Detailed information regarding the emergency situation will be shared on the district’s website at www.peoriaunified.org/updates and will be updated as additional details become available.
Parents will also receive a phone, email and/or text message with details about the event. It is important to keep your contact information updated at your child’s school site. You can always check social media but remember that official district communication will always be shared directly on our website.
Please note that during a school crisis, the school may not answer the phone. The staff’s number one priority is to ensure everyone’s safety on campus. The district’s Communications and Public Relations Department will share information with families once it has been verified.
Depending on the type of crisis situation, students may be asked to text their parents and let them know that they are safe. In some crisis situations, students will not be allowed to use their phones.
We know you have questions. Information will be shared as it becomes available to us as quickly as possible.
 Additional resources
If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, please call 9-1-1.
 
Safe School Line 623-486-6199
In order to maintain the safest learning environment, Peoria Unified School District offers a 24-hour Safe School Line for students, parents and community members to anonymously report threats or suspicious activity. Any messages will be retrieved during the district’s regular business hours and reported to the appropriate school principal.
 
Anti-bullying policy
The Peoria Unified School District has a zero-tolerance policy on bullying. Resources are available for parents and students if you suspect someone has been bullied. To view the Parents Guide to Bullying, or the Bullying Prevention Brochure, see the links on the right.

How do I report bullying?
• Tell a teacher, principal, guidance counselor or any staff member on campus
• Tell parents or a family member
• Tell any adult you know and trust
• Complete a Bully Incident Report Form and return it to your school’s front office
• Call Peoria Unified’s Safe School Line at 623-486-6199
• Additional resources can be found at http://www.stopbullying.gov

 

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