A Letter on School Safety
School Safety: A Letter to Staff, Students, and Parents from Dr. Derek Arrowood, Superintendent, Hamilton Heights School Corporation
In the aftermath of another tragic school shooting, especially one so close to home, I felt it was important to reach out to reassure you that the safety of our students and staff remain a top priority at Hamilton Heights. As an educator and parent of a child at Heights, I deeply care about providing the safest and most secure learning environment possible.
Very reasonably, over the past couple of weeks, I have been asked about our security procedures, the types of security measures we have in place, and where we plan to go in the future with respect to school safety. There is always a fine balance between increased security and creating a welcoming atmosphere for students, parents and the community. That balance is continually discussed and debated on a regular basis.
Student safety has long been a top priority of our School Board and entire staff with safety procedures and protocols in place long before I arrived five years ago. These procedures and protocols are under continuous review and scrutiny as we look to the latest research, tools, and technology to improve and enhance our school safety measures.
Heights employs three full-time, onsite resource officers through a partnership with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department. We have a safety coordinator at each building, an internal Safety Leadership Team, and a Corporation School Safety Team, which meets regularly to review, and make the best recommendations to keep our students and staff safe so they can do what they do best – learn and teach.
We will be holding several special meetings in July and August to discuss our current safety measures, examine new training opportunities, discuss the role of mental health and school violence, and examine future safety enhancements. The meetings will include the entire corporation School Safety team, our safety coordinators, and representatives from the Hamilton County Emergency Management, Sheriff’s, Atlanta, Arcadia, Cicero Police, Jackson Township Fire, and Cicero Fire Departments.
Prior to the start of school, we will host a school safety information meeting on Wednesday, August 1 for parents and families. At the meeting we’ll provide an update on our latest safety measures, share research and facts related to school violence, and offer a Q & A session with Heights administrators and Safety Team members. In addition, our Resource Officers will give a presentation on their role and function. Additional details for this meeting will be forthcoming.
As our focus on safety initiatives, ongoing training, and applying the latest technological advances in safety and security continues, I would like to remind you that one of the most powerful weapons in the effort to improve school safety is to work together as families, friends, neighbors, and community to watch out for each other and to report unsafe conditions or concerning behavior.