Kent School District: ‘Keeping Our Students, Staff, and Community Safe’

From the Kent School District:

Each school day, our 42 schools are entrusted to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for approximately 27,000+ elementary and secondary students.

Families and communities expect schools to keep their children safe from all threats including human-caused emergencies such as crimes of violence. The Kent School District (KSD) effectively collaborates with local authorities including police, fire, and other first responder services to ensure plans are in place to mitigate potential threats.

The Florida school shooting earlier this month has left many of us in shock and has raised some questions about the safety of our students locally. KSD has extensive and thorough crisis response plans that address a full-range of emergency situations. Each individual school is prepared for these crisis situations. District and school plans have been developed in coordination with both King County and Kent Police emergency responders and the Washington State Emergency Management Division. Our preparedness should be a source of reassurance to our students and families. These plans include procedures to respond to critical incidents ranging from bomb threats, fires and gas leaks, to an active shooter situation. Training students and staff is a key component of ensuring a safe and secure school environment.

Lockdown drills are regularly conducted at all KSD schools, a minimum of three times per year, in addition to several other drills that cover possible scenarios and are in accordance with state recommendations and best practices. The value in practicing these drills, including lockdown drills, multiple times per year is building the confidence and muscle memory of staff and students through repitition. To that end, local law enforcement and Kent School District staff participate in “active shooter” trainings each year. This is scenario-based training, so they know how to respond if someone comes into a school posing an active threat.

The Kent School District Safety Services Department provides safety and security for students, staff, and visitors. The three school resource officers and eighteen safety services staff members support students and employees at all schools in the District. The Safety Services Department provides service across the district’s seventy-three square miles, including eight (8) mobile support vehicles safety officers use to assist with patrol and equipment. Security coverage is also provided for the District’s campuses, administration and support service buildings. Each day, more than 3,000 well trained and caring professionals put student safety first and are vigilant in their efforts to identify, report, and respond appropriately to dangerous situations.

Beyond the drills however, there is more that can be done by everyone in the KSD community, and that is prevention. Creating positive relationships between and among students and staff and ensuring a culture of mutual respect are both desired outcomes included in our strategic plan. The process includes our effective implementation of a Multi-Tiered System of Support within our schools, as well as our responsiveness to student behaviors that incorporate Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) and restorative practices.

While teaching and learning is our core business, our students’ and staff members’ safety remains the top priority of Kent School District. We will continue to remain vigilant and steadfast to take all necessary steps and actions to ensure that students, staff, and our school communities are safe. Successfully preparing all students for their futures is more than a job, it is our mission—it is the reason KSD exists. We fully understand and accept the responsibility that our students and staff must feel safe (physically, emotionally, and psychologically) before they are able to learn, teach, and achieve at increasingly higher levels.

Students, staff, parents, guardians and community members are also essential participants in Kent School District safety planning. We encourage everyone to help keep our schools and communities safe by paying attention to our surroundings and reporting suspicious activity, if you see something say something. Of course, for immediate threats we should always call 911 first, however, if we see or hear of any suspicious activity in or near our schools we ask that individuals call KSD Safety Services at (253) 373-7256.