Here are some emails sent our by a (rich suburban) school system’s superintendent:
This morning, spray painted graffitti was found on the ground at the *** entrance to the *** School. Detective *** and Principal *** are working together to investigate the incident. An All School Meeting was held with students in grades 5 – 8 to discuss the incident and to request that anyone with possible information come forward.
Detective *** is continuing his investigation beyond the school campus.
We are taking this event seriously and doing everything we can to gather pertinent information.
As we learn more, we will keep everyone appropriately informed.
Seven hours later:
Dear *** School Community,
I want to provide you with additional information regarding the graffiti found at the *** entrance of the *** School this morning.
The words memento mori were spray painted on the ground at the entrance to the school. Provided below is a translation and explanation of the phrase from Wikipedia.
Memento mori (Latin: “remember that you must die”)(2) is the medieval Latin theory and practice of reflection on mortality, especially as a means of considering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits.
This phrase has also been used in literature and film throughout time.
The school administration and the *** Police are collaborating to understand the impetus of this act and to gather any information about who may have carried it out. We are taking this act very seriously.
There will be an increased police presence on the campus and I will be reviewing safety protocols with the principals.
Because the graffiti does not specifically target any person or group, our sense is that this is a low level threat. However, we will take precautions as we move forward. We will be considering additional security steps for the buildings.
We will continue to share information with the community as we are able.
The next day:
Dear *** School Community,
Tonight at 7pm in the *** School auditorium, a public forum will be held to discuss the graffiti incident that occurred on our school campus.
Police Chief ***, Detective ***, and I will be present to talk about the steps that we are taking and to answer your questions. Principals, *** and *** will also be present along with members of the School Committee.
At this time, we do not have any more specific information to share about the graffiti. But, we want to provide an opportunity for the community to hear from us directly and to communicate your concerns and ask questions.
We hope that parents, faculty, staff, and community members will join us this evening.
Following the meeting:
Thank you to those who attended the forum last night. I know that many families are interested in the information from the forum, and so this is a brief overview including some changes that are part of our response to the graffiti incident.
Superintendent *** gave an overview of the safety measures in the district including the District School Safety Committee, *** School Crisis Team, Crisis Manual and the regular practice of safety drills. Chief *** explained the threat level assessment and how regional resources have been contacted to determine whether this incident matches any others in surrounding communities. Detective *** reviewed how he and Dr. *** are working with the 5-8 students and staff.
The investigation is active and ongoing. Dr. *** and Detective *** are communicating regularly about any information that comes forward from faculty, parents and/or students. Detective *** and Chief *** are consulting with a variety of school safety groups including STAR (School Threat Assessment Registry) and a *** County consortium for school safety. Both groups have confirmed that the *** Public Schools and *** Police Department response to this incident has been appropriate given the available information.
We will continue to have police presence on campus, and we will now lock the main entrance and use the buzzer system for visitors during the school day. Arrival and dismissal procedures will remain the same: the kindergarten doors and the main entrance will be unlocked between 7:45 and 8:15. Once the doors are locked, visitors should use the buzzer on the brick wall to the right of the main entrance doors. The office staff can see and communicate with visitors, and then “buzz” the center door open. We will continue to ask all visitors to come to the main office to sign in. The building will be unlocked at 2:50 or 12:35 so that after school activities can happen.
The K-4 faculty and staff will not be initiating whole-class discussions about the graffiti. They are, however, prepared to respond if students bring it up. Responses will be neutral and acknowledge student feelings; and questions will be answered as simply as possible. For example, a teacher might say, “Yes, there was some graffiti that made people feel very uncomfortable. That’s a normal feeling when something unexpected happens. We want everyone to feel good in school so they can do their best learning, and there are lots of adults looking out for you.”
We have practiced 3 safety drills this school year, have a crisis manual and tremendous support from the district and LPD – it is our greatest hope that we never have to implement any of these safety procedures for a real emergency. We cannot guarantee 100% that the school will be safe and secure, however, I am confident the faculty and staff (and students!) are prepared to respond in the case of an emergency.
The April Principal’s Forum is scheduled for Monday, April 4 (8:15-9:15 in the *** Multipurpose Room) and I have invited Superintendent *** ; School Committee Chairperson ***; and Detective *** to attend so that we can continue the important conversation about school safety with K-4 families.
Thank you for your support.