Dear Bixby Parents and Guardians,
Like many of you, I am saddened by the latest school shooting in Nashville on Monday. The thought of losing any child or employee to such an evil and senseless act of violence is horrifying to comprehend. The sense of grief, anger, and desperation being felt by these families, school employees, and community members must be overwhelming.
These terrible incidents weigh heavily on my heart for multiple reasons. As superintendent, I feel a strong sense of accountability to ensure our district is doing all we can to protect the safety of our students and staff. I also have grandkids who are Spartans, as well as another granddaughter who is in kindergarten at a suburban Nashville elementary school. The viral picture you may have seen of a frightened and distraught young girl being evacuated on a Nashville school bus was frightening to me. At that moment, I couldn’t help but transpose my own granddaughter’s face over that poor girl’s image. Suffice it to say, no child in our world should ever have to experience something like that.
This inexplicable act of violence has left yet another community shattered and countless lives forever changed. In the wake of this event, several parents in our community have rightfully reached out to me to ask about our district’s safety protocols and procedures. I understand the need for reassurance. Our children are our most precious resource and every parent should have confidence that our district is doing all we can reasonably do to prevent a similar incident from happening in our district.
I can assure you we are constantly evaluating our efforts to ensure student safety. To that end, I wanted to take this opportunity to make you aware of safety initiatives and guidelines currently in place to protect our students and staff.
Our school safety strategy includes, but is not limited to:
Coordination and emergency planning with Bixby police, fire, and safety officials and the Tulsa County Health Department.
BPS currently contracts with the Bixby Police Department to staff four full-time School Resource Officers (SROs). These SRO’s are not currently assigned permanently to individual sites but do rotate throughout the day to visit most campuses daily. Additionally, on-duty BPD can typically respond to emergencies at any site within minutes.
Allowing the use of our school sites for BPD to conduct active shooter training.
Development of extensive Emergency Response Plans for each school, updated annually and including evacuation sites, shelter-in-place details and parent communication directives.
Secured entrances at all schools.
Before admittance, all visitors are screened through our SchoolSafeID background checks.
A minimum of ten safety drills conducted annually, including lockdown and intruder drills.
Utilization of 24/7 interior and exterior video surveillance.
Ongoing safety training for employees, including substitute teachers.
Staff members designated to assist special needs students in an emergency/crisis.
“Say Something” - a 24/7 anonymous tip line available to all Bixby students and emphasized at the secondary level.
As we review our safety and security practices to determine if more can be done, we would ask for your assistance in also reviewing your own emergency plans. By working together, we can do more to protect our students.
What Can Parents/Guardians Do:
Be sure that updated emergency contact information is on file in your child’s school. This is particularly important if you have had a change in phone numbers.
Be sure the school has the current information about your caregiver.
Listen to your children and take their concerns seriously. If they “see something,” have them “say something.” If they overhear or observe (whether at school, an after-school event, or on social media) a student or former student threatening harm to themselves or others, please immediately report that information to law enforcement or a trusted adult.
Monitor your child’s social media activity and report anything suspicious. In some school shootings, the suspect’s social media accounts foreshadowed violent events.
When you are in our schools or at school events, be alert for individuals who do not belong. Report that information immediately to the school office or an administrator.
Instruct your child about how to reach you at all times.
Be sure your child knows what to do and where to go if there is an emergency and no one is at home.
Talk to your child about personal safety. Teach your child how to recognize danger signals.
We hope the following resources will be helpful as you address the sadness and fear that your child (ren) may be feeling following yesterday’s tragic shooting. This National Association of School Psychologists website provides tips on how to provide children with a sense of normalcy and security after high profile violent acts. https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis.
Lastly, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (http://www.nctsn.org/) provides additional resources and tips that you may find helpful.
School counselors are also available to help students who may have anxiety about what they have viewed on the news or social media regarding the latest incident.
Going forward, Bixby Public Schools pledges to you to remain dedicated in our efforts to protect students and staff. We strongly believe that a safe and secure school climate must precede and support an engaging and healthy learning environment.