Giving Our Students a Voice
February 23, 2018
In light of the recent, horrific school shooting in Florida, I want to take a moment to reassure you that the Rankin County Board of Education, the district administration, principals, and teachers are committed to providing the safest school setting within our capabilities for our students and all employees. Safety is our top priority. The RCSD has a long history of being proactive related to school safety and we strive to improve daily.
Rest assured that we are on high alert for any unusual event and we will continue to evaluate safety. Each school location has a crisis plan that is reviewed, updated, and practiced with input from experts in the field such as our local law enforcement agencies, the Mississippi Department of Education, and Homeland Security. (Obviously, we cannot share the details of our crisis plans publicly for safety reasons.)
Over the past few weeks, we have met with our administration teams to discuss our crisis plans once again. We continue to evaluate our current strategies and discuss measures to improve and increase the security of our schools. For example, prior to this event, on January 26th, we held a school safety training for our administrators titled CRASE, Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events, which was provided by Homeland Security and the Mississippi Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Orderly Schools. Our Frontier’s After School Care coordinators also went through this training on February 23rd. We have a follow-up/planning training this week, and we are scheduling more training for our teachers.
The RCSD is blessed with eight “family and safety minded” communities within the best county in Mississippi. Our communities encompass dedicated law enforcement agencies that work closely with us to protect our students and employees. They have keys and scan cards to our schools for 24-hour access, floor plans, and copies of our crisis plans. We are currently and will continue to communicate with law enforcement and other experts to enhance our security measures.
Finally, the RCSD encourages our communities, parents, students, and staff members to be mindful of school safety. We ask for the vigilance of everyone. It is always better to report a concern than remain silent. IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING. Again, school safety is everyone’s business so we ask all to keep their eyes open and to report any unsafe condition or concern to administration or law enforcement immediately. We encourage parents to speak with your child/ren about school safety and the consequences of what they do, say, and their online behavior.
We treat all threats seriously whether it is on social media, written, or verbal. Any threat will result in disciplinary action and will be reported to law
In closing, thank you for choosing the RCSD to educate your child/ren and trusting us with your most valuable asset. We take that responsibility seriously and will do all within our abilities to keep our children and employees safe.
Sue Townsend, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Education
Rankin County School District
WHAT CAN YOU DO AS A PARENT?
- Talk with your student about reporting concerns to district staff or law enforcement.
- Be aware of all surroundings. If something does not seem right, report it.
- If you have firearms or weapons in your home, please secure them.
- Stay informed.
- Listen to your student and help them process any concerns they may have.Model appropriate behaviors. Demonstrate healthy ways to express anger and relieve stress.
- Take an active role in your student’s education. Visit and volunteer at school, monitor schoolwork, and get to know teachers.
- Get to know your student’s friends and families. Establish a network to exchange information with other parents.
- Monitor and supervise your student’s reading material, television, video games, and music for appropriate content.
- Monitor and supervise your student’s use of the Internet and ALL social media.
- Watch for warning signs in your child/ren.
- In situations such as the tragedy in Florida, an at-risk student shows warning signs. Some signs of potential violence may be factors such as:
- Serious drug or alcohol use;
- Gang membership or strong desire to be in a gang;
- Access to or fascination with weapons, especially guns;
- Trouble controlling feelings like anger or disappointment;
- Withdrawal from friends and usual participation in activities or events;
- Regularly feeling rejected or alone;
- Feeling constantly disrespected;
- Increased loss of temper resulting in violent or aggressive behavior;
- Frequent physical fighting;
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs;
- Increased risk-taking behavior;
- Declining school performance;\
- Acute episodes of major mental illness;
- Planning on how to commit acts of violence;
- Announcing threats or plans for hurting others;
- Obtaining or carrying weapons; and/or\
- Displaying harm or cruelty to animals
- If you see something, say something!
Students in these situations will often share their plans with other students. Again, talk and listen to your child and his/her friends.