Safety and Education Are a Team Effort
by Dr. Deena Bishop, Superintendent, Anchorage School District
The Anchorage School District is off to a great start this year, and I am so excited for all the opportunities and experiences ahead. Throughout the District, teachers and staff have done an amazing job planning and preparing for this school year. Their commitment to the success of our nearly 48,000 students is truly inspiring.
My top priority at ASD is the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff. A safe and secure environment is absolutely essential to achieving our primary mission of educating all students for success in life. Unfortunately, this year we have already had a few incidents that put that safety at risk.
In August, a threatening message was found written in the bathroom at one of our middle schools. The principal immediately notified Anchorage Police Department who quickly responded and launched an investigation. They conducted interviews and arrested a student in connection with the graffiti the same evening it was reported. APD forwarded charges to the Department of Juvenile Justice, and the middle school is moving forward with appropriate school-level discipline.
The swift actions of the school staff and APD quickly diffused this situation; however, incidents like this remain troubling, as they seriously detract from the positive, safe learning environment to which each of our students is entitled. I cannot stress enough that any deliberate action, whether by a student or adult, that threatens the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff will not be tolerated.
ASD works tirelessly with the APD to investigate every situation that arises. If students are found to be involved, they will be subject to possible criminal charges, as well as school disciplinary action.
Our goal at ASD is to eliminate these types of incidents in our schools, and it will take a focused partnership between ASD and parents/guardians to accomplish.
For our part as educators, administrators, and staff at ASD we pledge to take the lead.
- We pledge to continue refining and improving security procedures District-wide.
- We pledge to regularly conduct emergency action drills such as lock down, stay put, active intruder (A.L.I.C.E), and evacuation.
- We pledge to proactively identify at-risk behaviors among our students and intervene with the appropriate procedures and resources.
- We pledge to empower students of all ages to come forward if they see any unsafe or threating actions or behaviors.
- We pledge to continue talking with our students about the importance of making responsible choices, while illustrating how making the wrong choices can lead to serious and life-changing consequences.
However, ASD cannot go it alone. We ask parents to talk with their children about safety and security within their school and to reiterate the importance of making responsible, deliberate decisions at school, at home, and in the community. Maintaining a safe and effective place to learn for each of our students must be a combined effort by everyone involved: educators, parents, and students.
I’m confident that together as a community we can work towards eliminating these threatening actions within our schools, as they distract everyone from accomplishing the mission of education. We owe it to our students to provide a safe and positive learning environment so they can achieve success in life. Thank you for your continued support.
Dr. Deena Bishop