During the past few weeks, we have heard with horror about the deadly assault on students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. We mourn those who died and have such compassion for their families, classmates, teachers, and the greater community. Current national debates questioning policies on the purchase of semi-automatic weapons, access to mental health services, and the effectiveness of school security plans should prompt all school leaders to once again reevaluate their safety procedures, methods of communication, and community expectations for response. I want you to know we have taken time to do just that in all NCC Vo-Tech high schools in recent days.
We continue to ask our students and their families to be vigilant and to report any situations that cause them concern. We ask students to please first tell an adult if they hear or read something – swift reporting to those in authority is exactly the right thing to do so that we can respond quickly and appropriately to protect their safety and minimize any potential risk. Though we are in a new era where cell phones and social media apps provide instant communication, sometimes in the rush to communicate, unsubstantiated information is forwarded, posted, and commented upon that can contribute to spreading false rumors. Doing so is often disruptive to the very school community we are trying to protect.
Our schools work closely with local law enforcement. Whenever a threat is made and we become aware of it, police immediately begin to investigate. If the threat is not considered credible, they advise schools to proceed as normal. If additional measures are called for, we implement those recommendations and communicate that information to you as soon as we can.
Thankfully, most threats are not credible; nevertheless, we take each one seriously and follow a clear process with our law enforcement agencies that always places student safety as the first priority.
Lastly, I ask that you continue conversations with your child about his or her online social activity – ask questions, set expectations, and stay informed.
On behalf of our students, our employees, and our board of education members, I want to thank you for being an important partner with us in nurturing your child’s educational success.
If you have any questions or suggestions regarding your school’s safety plans, please do not hesitate to contact me or your school’s principal.
Victoria Gehrt, Superintendent