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Douglas County builds community network to support students

CASTLE ROCK – The rainy, fall weather seemed appropriate as principals from across the Douglas County School District (DCSD) gathered with their counterparts from local churches to discuss a somber topic – teen suicide – and how we, as a community, can work together to prevent it.

The meeting at DCSD’s headquarters on October 6 was an opportunity for the District to educate the faith community regarding its preventative and intervention measures. The District has a multi-tiered system of support for students. The most intensive level of support is provided to those in crisis.

Universal: Supports afforded to all students
Targeted: Supports provided to a targeted population of students who require a higher level of assistance than those who benefit from universal supports alone
Intensive: Supports afforded to a population of students who require a higher level of assistance than those who benefit from universal and targeted supports alone.

DCSD Superintendent Dr. Liz Fagen opened the session, explaining how the District has placed safety, including psychological safety as the District’s first priority.

“I am so happy that our Superintendent has prioritized our work,” explained Germain. “I’ve been in districts where it is not prioritized and we did not have opportunities to do things like we did today, a chance to reach out to our community.”

Germain and his staff, including Team Up, are working to implement a variety of universal prevention programs, but know that it will take wide support from the community to protect Douglas County students.

LEARN MORE: School Culture & Prevention Programs
Intervention & Support Resources

“I think everyone knows this is not a challenge we can solve single-handedly. As a District and as educators, we know that we only see our kids seven and half hours a day and 176 days a year,” said DCSD’s Chief Student Advocacy Officer Dr. Jason Germain, who oversees the District’s mental health staff. “No one can do it on their own, but if we work collaboratively and together, we will have a much better shot of making sure we catch kids.”

The Douglas County pastors whole-heartedly agreed. Many of those in attendance have youth pastors who work directly with Douglas County youth and some have struggled with handling teen suicides and other deaths in our community over the past few years.

“We think this is an all hands on deck, for the faith community,” said Jake Meuli, a local businessman  and Ponderosa High School graduate, who has volunteered to coordinate a series of these types of interactions between the faith community and government agencies to address local issues.

He says the churches are realizing that it is crucial to take care of “their backyards,” in addition to their typical mission projects.

“We are doing a lot of stuff overseas. We are doing a lot of stuff in the inner city, but we can’t let another young person hurt themselves,” Meuli said.

The meeting with DCSD was the fourth time Douglas County’s faith community has gathered over the past year to address local issues. It all began about a year ago, when the pastors met with the director of Douglas County Human Services, Daniel Makelky. As a result of that meeting, church communities helped recruit foster parents, engage the County’s aging population, investigate the possibility of a winter shelter for homeless families and support food banks.

Tuesday’s meeting was the first time the District has met with the faith community, and the goal was simply to make connections within the community.

“Ultimately, if nothing more happens than starting a conversation about something that people don’t typically enjoy talking about, I would be satisfied,” Germain said. “The more conversations we have and the more open we are with our kids in speaking about suicide and what is impacting other youth, the more likely we are to start to build the relationships that could down the line, prevent a student to make a choice to die by suicide.”

Germain, however, believes that the connections made at the meeting will result in a long-term community network, providing better overall support for Douglas County children.

Suicide is preventable. Talk about it. Get Help.
DCSD Suicide Prevention Resources
Douglas Arapahoe Suicide Prevention Alliance
Douglas County Youth and Family Resource Guide


October 7, 2015 | By rmbarber | Category: Prevention and School Culture, Communications, District, Department of Personalized Learning, Mental Health Intervention

District News

graduates standing in line outside, smiling

DOUGLAS COUNTY – Graduation rates in the Douglas County School District (DCSD) continue to climb. Data released today by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) shows the on-time, four-year graduation rate is now 90.4 percent.

DCSD students also made an impressive showing at graduation. The class of 2017 earned more than $82 million in scholarships.

DCSD has one of the highest graduation rates in the Denver metro area. According to CDE, DCSD graduation rates have risen steadily from 81.9 percent in 2009 to 90.4 percent in 2017.

Five female students standing on stage smiling and laughing at the awards ceremony

The top two-percent of female athletes in Douglas County School District (DCSD) were honored at the annual Girls and Women in Sports Luncheon last week at Chaparral High School. This year represented the 30th national celebration of Girls and Women in Sports Day, created to encourage and promote the participation of girls in athletics. The girls who were honored were selected by their school’s coaches, athletic directors and principals for their outstanding achievements.

Superintendent Search text based logo

Working through the recent winter break, the Douglas County School District Board of Education has kicked off its search for DCSD’s next permanent superintendent. Following a thorough vetting of potential search firms, Ray & Associates (no relation to Board Director David Ray) has been hired to conduct the national search. The cost of the firm, excluding travel expenses, is $40,000. The money will come from the school board's budget, which is used for costs such as legal expenses and conferences.