Safety: DCSD’s Number One Priority
PARKER – The continually improving, layered security measures put into place by the Douglas County School District are among the most comprehensive and innovative in the nation. In addition to efforts to improve physical security, including the implementation of the first-of-its-kind School Marshal Program, the District is also focusing on student psychological safety, such as mental health, suicide and bullying prevention.
The issue is so important, the District is formally adding safety to its 2014-2017 Strategic Plan.
“It has always been a priority, but it wasn’t in the Strategic Plan. Now it is absolutely in the plan, transparently,” explained Superintendent Dr. Liz Fagen. “We are very proud of that transition forward. With that we feel that we have a lot of people that have great ideas about safety.”
Even before its incorporation into the Strategic Plan, the District took feedback about safety and security seriously, establishing a channel for concerns and ideas, (www.dcsdk12.org/safety-concerns-and-comments), as well as a Safety Committee comprised of District staff and emergency responders who review the feedback. The group helps to determine the feasibility, priority and long-term impact of potential changes. The goal of all of these efforts is continual improvement.
“I think that is what is great about Douglas County,” said Carly Posey, a parent of students at Frontier Valley Elementary and Cimarron Middle schools in Parker. “It is a top priority for them and they see it evolving. It is not just, ‘we wrote this on a piece of paper and we’re done.’”
By chance, Dave and Carly Posey had planned to move to Parker in December 2012, the day after the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary. Two of their children were in the school at the time of the shooting, including then first-grader Reichen.
“He walked up to Reichen and pointed the gun in Reichen’s face,” said Dave Posey. “For whatever reason, didn’t pull the trigger, but turned to Ms. Soto. He shot Ms. Soto and another little girl.”
Reichen was able to lead nine children out of the classroom and to safety, when the gunman’s weapon jammed. Somehow, he and the other students reached safety, even after the man targeted them again.
“He was running along the sidewalk, the shooter was shooting out those windows,” Dave Posey said. “Reichen still talks about it, all the time. He still talks about that day.”
Twenty-six people were shot and killed that fateful day, including 20 children.
“They were close friends, dear friends, who we all lost that day,” Dave Posey said. “In a way, I wish that people could feel what we feel, because it would definitely change the culture. It definitely would change the way we view security and our priorities for security.”
While he says people shouldn’t live in fear, the Poseys say every school needs to take security seriously.
“Sandy Hook wasn’t prepared for any of it. Not only were doors not locked so that he could get into the classroom… there was no reunification process,” Dave Posey said. "In Sandy Hook, the police officers had never been in that school, ever.”
The Poseys say they chose Douglas County because of the academic excellence of its schools, but following the events of December 14, 2012, they have been impressed by DCSD’s commitment to student and staff safety.
“It became very evident that not only was it different from the start. Not only did they have things in place, but they were doing more,” Carly Posey said.
They commend the DCSD School Marshal Program, where plain-clothed police officers visit the school multiple times daily.
“They're not just walking through the building,” Carley Posey said. “They know our staff. They know our students. They talk with students. They eat lunch with our students.”
The Poseys have also worked with school staff to increase awareness of security protocols at the school, to ensure there is a culture amongst the entire school community focused on keeping all students safe.
“When I shut the front door on a parent, because they haven’t buzzed in... parents shouldn’t be upset by that,” Dave Posey said. “They should be happy that we’re doing that.”
During the 2014 Apple Awards, Frontier Valley Elementary was honored for its security efforts.
The Poseys are now encouraging all DCSD parents to get actively involved in their schools, especially when it comes to safety.
“We’re trying to involve the parents and make sure they understand how important it is… the actual programs and what we’re doing here,” Dave Posey said.
The Posey family is hosting an event at Cimarron Middle School on March 13, to give parents a chance to hear from safety experts and to ask questions. All
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