October 30, 2014
Update – Nov. 5, 2014
The first group of recruiters has been approved by Superintendent Ed Graff to move forward in working with school principals to schedule orientations. The orientations will be completed prior to participation in any recruiting opportunities on ASD campuses. The other military branches have provided information to the superintendent for review and are expected to be approved shortly.
Employment and post-secondary recruiters will also undergo orientations prior to events on ASD campuses. The expectations for all recruiters at ASD schools are outlined in the district’s recruiter procedures.
Safety of Anchorage School District students is my top priority. That is not negotiable.
A little over a week ago, I read some alarming media reports of alleged misconduct by Army National Guard recruiters involving ASD students. The allegations are unacceptable and we are taking them very seriously.
When students come to school each day, they deserve to be safe and treated with respect by everyone in the building, including visitors. For this reason, I made the decision to meet with all branches of the military to discuss student safety before granting further recruiter access to students on our school campuses.
The district has a protocol regarding all recruiting activity - military, college and employment - on our campuses. All meetings are to be publicly noticed to parents prior to their arrival. The recruiters are to set up tables in public areas, outside of the classroom. No private appointments are allowed nor are recruiters allowed to meet with students without ASD staff present. All recruiters must follow the same rules as other visitors.
This protocol has been in place for many years to ensure fair and equitable access to our schools while maintaining student safety.
On Monday, I met with military representatives. We had a positive and open dialogue about student safety and recruiting procedures. It was a valuable and productive conversation. We committed to continue working together to ensure student safety moving forward.
Additionally, I will be meeting further with representatives of the Army National Guard to gain a better understanding of allegations and reports as they pertain to ASD students.
One of the district’s goals, as outlined in our Destination 2020 strategic plan, is for every student and staff member to feel safe at school. This is paramount. More students are reporting that they feel safe in our schools than ever before. Parents are also giving ASD high marks for student safety. Yet more can be done.
All ASD employees are required to receive annual training regarding appropriate adult/student boundaries. Additionally, all school-based staff receives training on child abuse recognition and reporting. While this training is only required every five years by Alaska state statute, I believe it is important and our staff receives it annually.
When there is an allegation of inappropriate adult behavior involving students, whether concerning an employee or community member, swift action is taken. That person is immediately removed from having any contact with students while an investigation takes place. When the allegations are criminal in nature, the Anchorage Police Department is immediately brought in to investigate.
I know our military partners are also safety conscious. During Monday’s meeting, I was pleased to learn more about the training and reporting protocols the military has in place for its members. Those who plan to participate in recruiting events at ASD schools will meet with high school principals for an orientation prior to any interactions with students. Together, they will review recruiter protocols, appropriate adult/student boundaries and other safety measures that are standard in each school.
We are grateful to our armed forces for this renewed commitment to student safety. ASD has many valued partnerships with the various military branches. Troops regularly volunteer in our classrooms and support our schools with a number of different activities.
I cannot express enough respect and gratitude for all they do to support not only our students and schools, but also our community, state and country. I value the commitment and dedication given by our military members and their families.
Our partnerships with them are invaluable and that’s why it is critical we continue our conversations regarding student safety.
In a few weeks, on Veterans Day, we will honor and celebrate the sacrifices made by our military. Many of our schools have outstanding activities planned to educate students and will welcome veterans and active duty personnel into our schools to personally thank them for their service.
I look forward to these events and am confident that by working together and maintaining direct communication, we will keep our public schools safe and continue strong partnerships with our military community.