November 9, 2022: Superintendent Message about Safety

November 9, 2022: Superintendent Message about Safety

November 9, 2022

Dear Northshore Families: 

Yesterday, there was a tragic shooting in a Seattle Public Schools high school and a student was killed. As an educator, I am grieving along with all educators in our district and region. Our hearts are with the child’s family, their peers, SPS staff, and the administration. Violence on a school campus - whether close to home or across the nation - harms all of us and increases fear and anxiety in our community. 

In times like these it is natural to worry about your own child’s safety at school. Please know that your child’s safety in the Northshore School District is the top priority for me, the School Board, and all NSD staff. In Northshore we take a multi-pronged approach to student wellness and safety, starting with proactive social-emotional supports and establishing an environment where all students know they belong. 

Student belonging is a central theme in Northshore schools during the 2022-23 school year. Northshore staff are emphasizing belonging in our schools, and our educators are getting to know students and building relationships so they can teach students in meaningful ways. 

Other proactive supports include funding a school counselor at each elementary school, mental health specialists at each middle and high school, and elementary social-emotional curriculum. The District also has partnerships in place with community mental health providers to supplement the staffing with both in-person and virtual appointments available. 

Steps to build safe communities at school are critical, but it’s also important to establish plans and protocols in preparation for an emergency. The following supports are in place in Northshore schools currently:

  • The District Safety & Security Department supports schools in creating school emergency response plans and running monthly emergency drills. We have communication systems that quickly alert staff, students, and emergency responders. Several years ago, the District created a position for emergency preparedness that oversees this work.
  • Any threat of violence or a weapon on campus is met with swift disciplinary action. Please use this as an opportunity to talk with your student about the seriousness of these events if developmentally appropriate.
  • SafeSchools Alerts allow students, staff, parents/guardians, and community members to anonymously report concerns to the District. Students, families, and staff are encouraged to say something, if they see something by either connecting directly with a trusted adult at the school or district or submitting concerns by: 
  • With the voter-approved 2018 Capital Bond, the District continues to put in place campus safety improvements, including:
    • Classroom security locks are installed in all schools and can be locked from inside the classroom without the use of a key, no longer requiring someone to lock the door from the outside with a key. The new locks also have a visual indicator which will help in an emergency situation. 
    • New or modernized security camera equipment and systems are being installed and will be fully implemented by the end of the 2022-23 school year to support student and staff safety.
  • Northshore has an experienced expert Safety and Security Department, and school-based safety supports at our four comprehensive high schools. 
  • We continue to require visitor/volunteer sign in and throughout the day as staff move about our campuses, we monitor for unauthorized visitors and know what actions to take if we see something unexpected. All staff wear photo badges and ensure that any visitors are identified by badges as well. 
  • The district continues to evaluate and take action to improve student wellness and safety. Just last week, the district launched a Student Wellness and Safety Task Force to review our current supports and make recommendations on continued improvements. 

I recognize how challenging this type of communication is for our families, students, and staff. Students may need emotional support from school and home. Here are some resources you may find helpful: 

 There are also additional steps we can take as a community to reduce the risk of gun violence in schools. King County's LOCK-IT-UP campaign promotes the safe storage of firearms with the goal of reducing unwanted access to firearms and provides details on the different types of locks and where to buy them. Simple firearm storage tips include:

  • Store firearms unloaded and locked
  • To properly store firearms, use a gun safe, gun lock box, a trigger lock or a chamber lock
  • Store and lock ammunition in a separate place.

Be Smart For Kids is also a great resource and includes tips for parents on talking with other parents and students about firearm safety, including proper storage. 

 As a life-long educator, I take the responsibility of caring for your children when they are at school very seriously. Today and every day I, along with NSD’s staff members, work to ensure each student in our care is seen, known, cared for, and safe. Thank you for your partnership in these efforts. 

In partnership, 

Michael Tolley Interim Superintendent Northshore School District



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