Statement on Safety In Our Schools

Posted by Dr. Mark Holodick on 2/22/2018

Dear BSD Community,

Over the past week, I have received numerous phone calls, emails, and text messages from stakeholders seeking my thoughts on the horrific tragedy that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school in Parkland, FL on Wednesday, February 14, 2018.  Students, parents, staff, quite frankly all of us, have many questions and concerns surrounding this latest incident.  How we can make a difference regarding safety in our own schools, state, and community?  What can we do in response to not only the most recent frightening, frustrating, and maddening event but to the continued pattern of school safety issues plaguing our nation? This message is meant to address those and other issues related to this event, our response and approach to it as a District, and where I stand as a Superintendent and parent. 

First and foremost, my prayers are with the family, friends, and classmates of the 17 students who were innocently gunned down at their school.  I cannot begin to imagine what such a loss feels like.  No parent should have to bury their child let alone to such a senseless act of violence.  In a country as wise, well resourced, and wealthy as ours, we have the wherewithal to minimize, if not eradicate, such horrific events.  It is a matter of will.  I believe our younger generation, our students, know and believe that as well as any.

Although I support the Second Amendment, I do not support access to weapons meant for war that allow people to harm others in great numbers.  I remain unconvinced that we, as a nation, cannot have sensible laws, regulations, and protocols that allow for responsible hunters, gun enthusiasts, and law-abiding Americans to own a firearm while responsibly prohibiting any and all firearms to those who are not mentally fit.  I believe we can be a nation whose citizens can responsibly own a firearm while also ensuring the safety of all of our citizens and of course our most valuable resource, our children.  If we cannot reach middle ground on this, shame on us.  Our young people get it and they are clearly and passionately expressing their expectations.  I applaud their efforts and know, having spent much time around them, they have the intellect and passion to push their issue and accomplish what they set out to.

Events are being planned across our nation by groups to express their strong desire for change.  I will work with all students in BSD and directly with identified student leaders, administrators, teachers, parents, and community leaders as necessary to ensure our students know they are supported.  Their right to peacefully and appropriately express their discontent will indeed be honored.  Students respect and appreciate being treated equitably and fairly.  They deserve it.  Thus, we, as a District, will plan accordingly with the safety and rights of all in mind.

In closing, I’ve been asked by many what they can do to help keep our children safe in schools.  I appreciate this outreach.  Here are some suggestions.  I have also included a few valuable links at the bottom of this message.

  1. Stay closely connected to your children and their friends. If ever you feel uneasy about what could be a threat to our students and schools, report it to your principal, to me, or to the police. Be vigilant!  Tell your children to do the same; if they hear or see something that worries them, make sure they know that they should tell a trusted adult as soon as possible.
  2. Discuss with your children, as appropriate, what basic actions can be taken in emergency situations. There are common sense best practices that children of all ages should know, including listening to adults for instructions, following those instructions, and staying calm and quiet. 
  3. Demand to elected officials and leaders that these issues get addressed through sensible legislation, policies, and procedures. Hold those in authority accountable for the safety of our children.  Ensure when you vote at each election that you know where candidates stand on topics important to you.

The safety and well-being of our students, community, and nation deserve our best efforts always, and now is the time for us to stand together to make necessary changes. 

Sincerely,

Mark Holodick, Superintendent

 

State of Delaware https://governor.delaware.gov/school-safety/ 

National PTA https://www.pta.org/home/family-resources/safety/School-Safety

Federal Bureau of Investigation https://leb.fbi.gov/articles/featured-articles/addressing-school-violence

Ready.gov https://www.ready.gov/active-shooter

Sandy Hook Promise https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/promise/pages/42/attachments/original/1501693028/SHP_Know_the_Signs_Guide_2017.pdf?1501693028