Once again we are seeing images of unspeakable sorrow and loss from a school campus. The Wylie ISD’s thoughts and prayers are with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and Broward County Schools, especially the families affected by this tragedy. My son’s biology teacher posted this on Twitter yesterday and I consider it very appropriate to share with our kids as a measure of comfort in the midst of this senseless violence. It’s a great reminder that schools are full of “helpers” that love your babies.
The faculty and staff of Wylie ISD love your kids. I love your kids. Your kids are our kids while they are in our care. We will observe extra vigilance in the short term as the nation absorbs the horrible blow of yet another tragedy. We have asked our staff, especially at the high schools, to be visible in the hallways and common areas of the school. We are also working with our police departments to be sure they are visible on, and around, our schools.
Wylie ISD takes every manner of precaution to keep our children safe while they are in our care. We are always open to suggestions and ideas on how to improve campus safety, and we are constantly apprised of current issues from first responders and safety experts.
Here is a brief update on what we have been doing, and will continue to do.
Wylie ISD follows a district-wide safety plan as outlined by the Texas School Safety Center (TSSC). An audit of all Wylie ISD facilities was completed in 2017, submitted to the TSSC, and presented to the Board as required. Wylie ISD meets, or exceeds, all standards on this comprehensive audit.
The district’s School Safety and Security Committee, comprised of 20 members including ESC staff, campus administration and security personnel and first responders, is tasked with reviewing our Emergency Operating Plan (EOP) and scrutinizing all aspects of the district’s safety and security operations. This committee reviews each audit report submitted to the TSSC and makes recommendations for improvement. In addition, it provides the district with support services information in connection with Safety and Security Audit reports and other required reports, and participates on behalf of the district in developing and implementing emergency plans consistent with the EOP to ensure that plans reflect specific campus, facility, or support service needs. Several District and Campus action items have been implemented as we continue to work to provide the safest possible learning and working environment. As we implement these action items, please note that some of these will be visible, others won’t.
Our regular meetings with first responders continue and we have identified some simple steps we can take to help improve school safety. These include staff training, checking/locking doors, coordinating our safety drills and improved communications.
Technology is playing a part in this process. Campuses have automated lockdown controls which allow us to lock every exterior door with one button. Campus administrators, nurses and security members have radios with an emergency channel that is on the same channel as the Wylie Police Department. This allows for direct contact to our first responders.
As suggestions come in on ways to “harden” our buildings, it is equally important that we don’t harden our hearts. Beyond locked doors and radios, we need to examine the way we treat each other. This includes reaching out to students before they reach a crisis point. Campuses have various peer assistance and friendship programs designed to foster an environment of concern and caring for all students. In addition, we have added crisis counselors at both high school to help those students in need. Who knows how many of these tragedies could have been avoided if a troubled student had met a caring teacher. Or a bully was reported and counseled. In Wylie ISD we work every day at providing a caring environment where children feel loved and appreciated. It’s often said that schools are a mirror of the society the serve. In Wylie ISD, we want that reflection to always be bright. It’s the Wylie Way.
Prayers for this school and the families impacted by this tragedy. I want to tell you one more time, we love your kids.