An Open Letter to Northside ISD Staff, Students, and Parents from Superintendent Brian Woods:
Like many of you, I watched with sadness and horror as another school shooting unfolded in our country. For me, I watch these events as both an educator and the parent of a child enrolled in a NISD school. We all grieve for those involved in this tragedy. Very reasonably, some have asked about our security procedures and have expressed interest in more security measures being installed. I wanted to update you on the measures we have in place and where we plan to go in the future with respect to school safety.
There is always a balance to be drawn between increased security and creating a welcoming atmosphere for students, parents and the community. We debate that balance on a regular basis and certainly have in the wake of recent incidents. As you can imagine, in the aftermath of a school-based tragedy there are many calls to enhance safety measures.
In Northside, all middle and high school campuses are staffed with police officers who work for the Northside Police Department. In addition to campus officers, there is an element of our patrol division that is primarily responsible for police coverage at our elementary schools. The police department also mans 210-397-SAFE, the NISD SAFELINE, a 24/7 anonymous, phone and text line that will take and disseminate information about unsafe conditions. Please contact us if you suspect any unsafe condition that could impact one of our schools.
In the recent past, NISD patrons approved bond issues that allowed for the installation of security cameras and access control systems at all Northside campuses. In addition, every NISD elementary campus is equipped with the Raptor identification system. This system provides staff the ability to scan a driver’s license or other form of ID and runs that person’s information through various sex offender data bases. This is one more way that we are attempting to control the people who enter our buildings.
Starting in 2015, we have begun to install security lobbies that contain ballistic glass in our elementary schools. We hope to secure funding to finish that project in the coming years. We also are well underway on an initiative to ensure that every classroom door is able to be locked from inside the classroom. We are also updating the training that school staff receive.
In spite of all of this technology, facility upgrades and training, the most powerful weapon in the effort to improve school safety is a sense of community within our schools and the neighborhoods they serve. Our willingness to watch out for each other and to report unsafe conditions or behavior is our best defense. We constantly send this message to our students and count on our parents and community to help in this way as well. School safety is a job for the entire community.
Please know that the NISD Board of Trustees and our staff have student safety as our top priority. We understand that a student who does not feel safe cannot learn. Also know that we have and will continue to review our security procedures and the use of technology that can assist us in improving school safety.