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  • School Safety - June 2024

    Posted by Josh Friedman on 5/31/2024

    We made it to June, and while many of our students and staff are headed off for the summer, others of us, including your district Security staff, are reviewing the challenges and successes from the just-ended school year and planning and preparing for the next one.

    In Security,  we work year-round, thanks to a Governing Board decision about a year and a half ago.  While many of our campuses are closed for the summer, we still have 14 campuses that are active with students learning and practicing fine arts and sports.

    Our security staff also uses the summertime to refresh and replace emergency equipment and check all aspects of our emergency plans and systems to ensure that we are ready for the coming school year.  The Security team will also be receiving refresher training in CPR, first aid and crisis prevention which now includes de-escalation techniques.

    The SUSD Security team will be working hard all summer to ensure that the 2024-2025 school year is the best one yet.

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  • School Safety - May 2024

    Posted by Josh Friedman on 5/2/2024 5:00:00 PM

    Senior Pranks Funny … NOT FUNNY

    As we approach the end of the school year, it's important to emphasize that seniors’ excitement about their pending graduation does not outweigh our unwavering commitment to the safety and security of our campuses.

     

    The home stretch of each school year is often accompanied by senior pranks and after-hour activities on our grounds that are not permitted, so it's imperative that everyone understands the serious implications of such actions.  Any unauthorized presence on school grounds or engagement in illegal activities, including pranks, will result in severe consequences, including potential criminal charges and school discipline.    

     

    It's heartbreaking to witness years of students’ dedication overshadowed by impulsive decisions, but we must prioritize the safety and well-being of all students and staff.  We urge everyone to make responsible choices and avoid actions that could jeopardize their future, disrupt the learning environment and result in not being able to be part of graduation ceremonies. Let's work together to ensure a safe and positive end to the school year!

     

    STAY COOL AND HYDRATE

    As we enter the hottest months of the year, it's essential to prioritize sun protection and hydration to stay safe in the Valley’s famed summertime.  Even brief exposure to the intense heat, especially during outdoor activities such as lunch breaks or transitioning between classes, can lead to sunburn and dehydration.  To safeguard your child's well-being, please ensure they have sunscreen readily available and a refillable water bottle in order to stay hydrated throughout the day.  These simple steps can help prevent heat-related illnesses.

     

    Read more at The SUSD Source

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  • School Safety - April 2024

    Posted by Josh Friedman, CEM on 4/1/2024

    Scottsdale Unified School District, along with most other school districts and government agencies, utilize an incident-management system implemented and run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA. Called the Incident Command System (ICS), the system is designed to allow organizations to manage an incident, no matter how big or small, to integrate seamlessly, regardless of what agency they work for. This system is used, for example, to manage wildfires and major events, such as the attacks on the World Trade Center, as well as pre-planned events, such as the Super Bowl and Waste Management Phoenix Open.

    SUSD has always required district and campus leadership to be trained on the ICS basics that are offered online.  Over the last two years, the district has also hosted several in-person classes to conduct advanced training for SUSD’s incident command team. This team represents the district-level leadership that manages any incidents that occur on or that impact an SUSD campus.

    Over the course of these classes, we have come to recognize that for a K-12 school district, the ICS system is not ideal as it is geared more toward public safety, first-responder agencies, such as fire and police departments than an education entity.

    SUSD is working with the City of Scottsdale Emergency Management and the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) to revamp these ICS classes to make them more suitable for the education professionals who must manage an emergency situation. This new class will provide a certificate of completion from ADE and a greater understanding of how to utilize the staff on a campus to provide the leadership and tools necessary to mitigate an incident.

    This new program, in conjunction with ADE, will become the model for all school districts in the state so that educators will be able to continue to learn about and fit within the ICS system, but also understand how classroom and campus staff fit into that role as first responders. This groundbreaking discussion allows SUSD to pave the way for other school districts once again and will ensure that student safety is not just a priority, but that we are able to integrate seamlessly into the public safety, first-responder world when needed.

     

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  • School Safety - March 24

    Posted by Josh Friedman, CEM on 3/1/2024

    Does your child ride an electric bike or other motorized type of transportation, such as a scooter, hover board or other electronic device?  Because city ordinances regarding these types of transportation have changed, we will be sending information to you in the coming weeks regarding their use.

    In the City of Scottsdale, you cannot ride them on sidewalks or greenbelts.  You also cannot ride them in the street if you do not have a driver’s license unless they have functioning pedals.  In the City of Phoenix, it’s easy: you cannot ride them at all unless you are 18 years old.  Finally, none of them can be ridden on any Scottsdale Unified School District property.  Students may get off them when they reach campus and carried or pushed the rest of the way, but they cannot be ridden on district property.

    While we understand that these devices have become popular modes of transportation for students, the safety of each child is ultimately what is important.  Unfortunately, we constantly see children abusing the rules regarding electric bikes, and now, they may face some serious consequences for that behavior.  Under new city ordinances and related state laws, the punishment for violations can include hefty fines, delays in being able to acquire a student driver’s license or, in the case of students who already have one, its suspension.

    Once we send out the information referred to above, we will very much appreciate your having a conversation with your students about the do’s and don’ts.

    Lastly, it is time for SUSD to conduct its annual, Board-required training on safe firearms storage.  New videos have been produced this year, one for grades 1-5, another for grades 6-12.  These videos will have an opt-in permission slip to allow your child to view the grade-appropriate video during an upcoming school day.  The video reviews the practices around the safe storage of firearms, as well as the district, local and state policies, ordinances and laws that prohibit weapons of any kind at school.  We need you, the parents, to partner with us to prevent your children from bringing any type of weapon or simulated weapon (water gun, paintball gun) to school.

    Thank you,

    Josh Friedman, CEM
    Director of Safety and Security

    Read more at The SUSD Source

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  • School Safety - February 2024

    Posted by SUSD Communications on 2/1/2024

    A loaded firearm was found recently at Mountainside Middle School.  The school went into lockdown and then, shelter-in-place, until threat was assessed and mitigated.  Students were released for the day about 10 minutes after the usual dismissal time.

    The lockdown process for such a police incident changes every time because every incident is different.  While teachers and students practice lockdown drills at least three times a year, the real thing is much different.  Since last week’s event, I have spoken to and answered emails from many parents, staff members, and students who were involved in the incident, as well as many others who, although not directly involved, had input they wished to share. 

    One of my responsibilities is to gather all of this information and review it to determine what changes can be made that will result in our doing better.  While we always hope that this will never happen again, we must be prepared for that possibility.

    We, the school district, your site administration, and, most importantly, your children’s teachers need you, the parents, to be part of the solution.  This is not a debate about owning a gun; nor is it a debate about you or your child’s rights.  The law, both state and federal, is clear: weapons are not allowed in school.  Every parent who owns a gun or any kind of lethal weapon has a responsibility to safely secure it.  Law enforcement tells us that most often, weapons that students bring to school are acquired from relatives or friends who have failed to properly secure them when they are not in possession of them.

    WE, as parents and adults, need to partner together to ensure that children never bring any type of weapon to school.

    This district and every employee who works for it always has the safety of every person on our campuses and district offices as a top priority.  This safety starts at home, and we enforce it at school.  We need to work together to ensure that every child has a safe and great environment in which to learn.

    Remember: “See something, say something.”  Together, we will make things better.

    Read more at The SUSD Source

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  • Mountainside Middle School Incident: Safety and Security Meeting Recap

    Posted by SUSD Communications on 1/29/2024

    Here is a summary of the Mountainside Middle School meeting held Friday, January 26th. We appreciate all the parents, staff, district leadership and Scottsdale Police who were in attendance. It was a great demonstration of our strong community and its shared commitment to keeping our schools safe.

    • On Thursday, January 25th, a teacher reported a gun in a classroom, prompting the School Resource Officer (SRO) to quickly secure the area and initiate a lockdown.  Eighth grade students in their classes stayed in their classes.  Sixth and seventh graders who were at lunch, were led to the gym.
    • SUSD and SPD have recently enabled police officers with city ID’s to access schools during a lockdown.  This is the first time the enhanced approach to policing was actually put to use. As such, responding officers were able to immediately gain access to the school saving time.
    • The lockdown, lasting three hours, involved extensive efforts to determine the origin of the gun, identify the responsible party, and address potential threats.  The police worked through the night, conducting interviews, ultimately making an arrest around 1 a.m.  The ongoing investigation requires further steps, including search warrants and additional interviews, before formal charges can be brought. The priority remains ensuring the safety of students, and any new information will be addressed as the investigation progresses.
    • Lockdown drills are required three times a year. We are not experts at carrying out the real thing because thankfully we don’t have a lot of lockdowns in our district.  Each time, we learn lessons and continue to get better at our response and communication.
    • Two command posts were established—one at the school and another elsewhere in the district, involving district leadership and the Scottsdale Police.  Collaboration between SUSD and the police ensures coordinated communication, prioritizing parents and staff with accurate and regular updates.   Additionally, the information flow extends to other district leaders to equip them with the knowledge necessary for addressing questions or concerns from various stakeholders.
    • A major challenge is the prevalence of misinformation on social media.  Factual information will come from SUSD and SPD.  Suspicions should be shared with police or administrators, not on social media.  Our first priority is the safety of the students and staff on campus, preserving investigative integrity and communications with families.
    • There was a proliferation of false charges on social media.  Parents are urged not to contribute to misinformation and are reassured that the student wrongly associated with the incident had no involvement.  
    • There was uncertainty about the duration of the situation, prompting the preparation of a team at a different school to accommodate the potential need for student/guardian reunification.  The initial plan was to implement a reunification process, a nationwide procedure where parents/guardians fill out forms, verify their identity, and reunite with their children.  This entire process can take several hours.  It was unnecessary because, as the dismissal time approached, in consultation with the police department and district personnel, a decision was made to delay the dismissal, and avoid the potential complications and additional stress for families with a reunification process.  The messaging might have seemed confusing due to these considerations, but the delay was implemented to ensure a smoother and more organized release.  Our messaging was never meant to mislead but rather reflected what we knew when we knew it.  Lessons learned: We recognize a need to better communicate with the students as there was some confusion with what to do and where to go in a delayed release.  
    • Police did not yet have an arrest at the time of the release but also did not have a reason to continue to hold students back.  The gun was secured and there was no known threat.  Releasing students to their parents is what led to conversations and additional investigative leads ultimately resulting in an arrest.
    • Some students at lunch brought backpacks with them to the gym.  A better option would have been for those to be left in the cafeteria.  Students in the gym were not all searched because police were able to narrow their investigation to those students who were in the classroom where the gun was found.
    • SPD did have two dogs on campus to assist with their search/investigation.
    • SPD will work with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to determine charges as well as any culpability for the owner of the firearm.  Police can confirm there was no intent to harm and no criminal intent, and the family is cooperating. They also confirmed the student who found it brought it.
    • The Student Code of Conduct outlines potential discipline.  SUSD will conduct its own threat assessment and investigation.  The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the student’s privacy.  The district will not identify the student or share the resulting discipline.  Every student is entitled to due process.  Appropriate discipline will be applied after considering all relevant factors and gathering all the necessary facts.  Any recommendation for expulsion goes to an impartial hearing officer who makes a recommendation to the Governing Board.  The parents can appeal the hearing officer’s recommendation. Ultimately the Governing Board votes to expel or not. In accordance with Governing Board Policy  JICI Weapons in School and JKE Expulsion of Students.
    • Cell phones are supposed to be “away for the day” at school.  However, this is something we will be reviewing as there was not consistent enforcement of this during this incident and we recognize the value of students being able to communicate with their parent/guardian during an emergency to confirm they are safe.
    • The primary goal of a lockdown is to maintain a quiet and controlled environment when there is a perceived threat.  However, once it is determined that there is no active threat and the situation is under control, they transition to a "shelter in place" protocol.  This approach allows students to resume their activities in a more relaxed manner, avoiding the need for prolonged hiding.  The aim is to provide a space where students can feel more comfortable, receive guidance, and shift their focus back to normalcy.  This transitional period is another opportunity for improvement, ensuring that students and teachers are well-informed about the situation during this phase.
    • Crisis counselors from the district were available to talk to students and will be back next week. The school staff, along with the Director of Student Services, met to discuss messaging and strategies for helping students process the event.  They emphasize the importance of addressing the emotional impact on students and providing a supportive environment for them to express their feelings.  Additional security, and police officers were also present on campus Friday.
    • The district is always evaluating opportunities to enhance school safety. It starts first with reinforcing the basic fundamentals of DIG-IT (Lock Doors, Wear IDs, Lock Gates and IT - keep computer passwords safe). Other ideas like clear backpacks, no backpacks (going back to lockers) and metal detectors are also ideas that have been considered.  With 29 schools and many points of entry there is the question of feasibility as well as effectiveness.  The challenge lies in striking a balance between security and a welcoming learning environment.  Parents, students and staff are encouraged to be vigilant and "See Something, Say Something,” especially regarding social media where students might come across concerning information.  The goal is to foster an environment where students feel safe and empowered to report potential threats.
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  • School Safety - January 2024

    Posted by SUSD Communications on 1/1/2024

    Welcome to 2024! Your SUSD Safety and Security team is excited for the new year and the opportunity to continue supporting our students and staff to make each day better than the last.  

    No new year can be properly celebrated without also looking back at the one that just ended. As the district’s Director of Safety and Security, I am often asked, “What is the biggest problem you see on our campuses?” Without hesitation, I can say that our biggest problem is the disrespectful, unkind ways in which some students treat their classmates.

    Perhaps these classmates are showing off for friends and think they’re being funny, but try being on the other end of that meanness. Further, it is common for these same students to be disrespectful and rude toward the teacher or administrator who tries to correct this conduct. People are always saying we need to get back to the basics in school -- reading, math, science and social studies -- but that can be hard to do when an inordinate amount of time is spent correcting bad behavior. 

    From teachers and administrators to the folks who keep up our great school facilities, serve meals, and get your students safely to and from school every day, we are here to make a positive impact. We understand that part of being a kid is learning the guard rails that govern behavior. We manage that during the seven or so hours a day your students are with us. We rely on our partnership with you, their families, to reinforce and support the efforts when students are not at school. 

    We all want the same thing: a safe environment in which our students – your children – can learn and grow. It is only by working together, home and school, that we will be successful. Together, we can make a difference. #ONE TEAM #BECAUSE KIDS

    Read more at The SUSD Source

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  • School Safety - December 2023

    Posted by SUSD Communications on 12/1/2023

    Why do we have security guards on our campuses?  While all persons have a responsibility for the safety and well-being on a campus, this is the security guard’s primary function.  A security guard becomes an integral part of each school’s unique community.  Why else would one take part in a student government fundraiser that involves getting hit in the face with a pie, as Saguaro security guard Chris Tooker did recently?  😊

    Developing the relationships with the students ‒  becoming “friendly, but not a friend” ‒ allows students to trust their school’s guards and provide information on campus matters that might not otherwise be shared.  Selecting the right person to be a security guard at a school is not only about the actual job, but also the personality of the person and the community of the school they are going to serve.

    District security guards are trained in first aid and CPR, along with emergency response training.  Security guards work together with campus administration to ensure everyone has a safe and productive experience while they are on the campus.  This partnership allows for seamless support preparing for, during and after campus incidents, no matter how big or small they may be.

    SUSD is still hiring for this highly valued position.  Become a part of our school community, #Because Kids.

    Read more at The SUSD Source  

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  • School Safety – November 2023

    Posted by SUSD Communications on 11/1/2023

    November is here and, like many of you, we are wondering where August, September and October went.  The Security department has been working on several projects to enhance the safety and security of our 29 physical campuses.  While most of these enhancements are behind the scenes, two of the biggest ones are highlighted below.

    Our department is hiring.  We have six security guard positions to fill, including five new ones for our elementary schools.  These elementary school positions will rotate between three schools on a random basis.  They will work within each school’s community to assist with ensuring that all district security procedures are being followed.  They will also have a direct line to all of the district’s security resources.  If you know someone who is great with kids and is looking for work, we are looking for just that right person.  The positions are full-time, 12-month jobs, with benefits.  This is a great opportunity to get involved in your community school.

    In the coming weeks, you will see our new electronic visitor management system roll out to our campuses.  This system is state-of-the-art and will not only allow us to better track who is on our campuses, but will also help us with emergency communications during an event.  The implementation of this project closes one of the biggest communication gaps that we identified during our last drills.

    We hope you have a great holiday season over the next month.  Be sure to sign in at our campus front offices when you visit, and please reach out if you have any questions.

    Read more at The SUSD Source  

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  • School Safety – October 2023

    Posted by SUSD Communications on 10/1/2023

    As we kick off October and look forward to getting out of the Arizona oven and into better temperatures, SUSD will be rolling out a new visitor and volunteer management system. Using our new software, we will be able to verify that the persons who enter our campuses have a legitimate reason for being there. Each visitor will be required to scan a government-issued identification upon arrival. If they do not have an ID with them or forget to bring one, we can manually input their information, but it will take longer.

    As we roll out this new system, we ask for everyone’s patience while we navigate any challenges that may arise in its implementation. Stay tuned for more information from your school’s site administration in the coming weeks. 

    Remember that safety is everyone’s responsibility, and the teamwork between all of us is how we will successfully ensure the safety of all persons who utilize our campuses.

    Read more at The SUSD Source

     

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