December 17, 2012
Dear Parents, Staff and Community,
The Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy has had a profound effect on every community across the country. Many of you have called or emailed your concerns regarding the safety of our children. I hope this communication will help you understand what is already in place and reassure you that the safety of your children is our No. 1 priority. Additionally, you will find some of the steps we are taking in light of the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy.
- All CUSD phones are 911 enhanced which means emergency responders will know the exact location/classroom at the site of an emergency call.
- Security fencing and gates provide limited access to our schools. Additional fencing projects are in progress.
- Parking lot and exterior lighting has been enhanced at a number of sites that are heavy with evening activities.
- Security cameras have been installed at all high school and junior high school campuses. Cameras at elementary schools are currently being installed with 16 sites completed. It is important to note that the police have remote access to our cameras to observe and assess an emergency situation.
- Security cameras have been installed on 99% of our bus fleet which allow us to hear and see what is happening on and near the bus entrance.
- High school and junior high school campuses have police and security officers on site. While it is highly unusual that elementary schools have security personnel, we have three safety officers that work with our elementary schools.
- Each school has an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) that delineates procedures to follow in an emergency . . . whether it is an evacuation or lockdown. Those plans are reviewed and revised annually with the assistance of security staff and the police department.
- Schools are required to conduct fire drills monthly and at least two lockdown drills each semester. Safety officers, security staff and local law enforcement officers participate in lockdown drills.
- The police departments have aerial maps and schematics of all our sites to assist them in an emergency. Both Gilbert and Chandler police departments have used our schools for Active Shooter Training in order to familiarize themselves with our facilities.
- Police Departments have access to master keys to enter the buildings.
- District personnel meet monthly with Chandler Police Department and quarterly with Gilbert Police Department to keep open lines of communication.
- All employee and volunteers who have unsupervised contact with students are fingerprinted for clearance from DPS. Additionally, all outside contractors and their workers are fingerprinted for clearance as well.
- All school district personnel have district issued photo identification badges.
- Schools incorporate a visitor sign in/out registry.
- An active district Crisis Response Team composed of district counselors, social workers and psychologists are prepared to respond to any emergency in support of our students and staff.
- We have directed all elementary principals to review their site plans and enforce a single point of entry. In the past, many parents and volunteers were upset due to the inconvenience, so we ask for your patience and understanding as we require you to walk further than desired.
- In discussion with the Chandler and Gilbert Police Departments, there will be an increased police presence in and around our campuses this week.
- The administration will be forwarding a recommendation to our citizen’s budget committee and to the Governing Board to seek additional funding in the November 2013 election to hire additional elementary security staff and to begin installing security card access on exterior doors which will allow us more control and specific knowledge of who enters/exits and when.
In closing, we are looking forward to better understanding the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy and what lessons we can learn from this. In addition, we will be discussing with our security advisors suggestions for enhancing our safety procedures. In the meantime, your support and understanding is especially appreciated.
Camille Casteel, Ed.D.,