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April 19, 2024

 

GLPS Families,

As we approach the last full week of April and look ahead to May, we know that the school year gets very busy. On top of the testing that I talked about last week, we start gearing up for end of the year field trips, celebrations, and events. However, as the fun and excitement of the end of a school year ramps up, we have a responsibility to ensure that we continue to follow our processes and protocols to keep our district, and its people, safe and secure. To those ends, as a follow-up to the message this morning from John Ellsworth regarding a potential threat, and on the heels of the tornado warning that we experienced Wednesday, I thought this would be a good time to remind you about the protocols we have in place throughout the district to keep students and staff safe during the school day.

As Mr. Ellsworth communicated this morning, we received information about a concerning social media post that some of our students saw. Because of our strong relationship with local law enforcement, and the expertise and experience of Chris Chester, our Student Safety Supervisor, we were able to quickly discern that the post did not represent a danger to the safety of our students, schools, or staff today. This allowed us to continue with our regularly scheduled school day, confident that our students and staff were not in harm’s way, while also communicating with all of you. Fortunately, we have experts in the right places and protocols to follow when these situations arise, and those experts followed the protocols to the letter this morning. Anytime a potential threat is received, whether that is made against our district from the outside or from one student to another, we follow our threat assessment protocol to ensure we understand the nature and the danger associated with that threat – and we then act accordingly. 

This morning’s event also highlights the fact that the best way for us to manage any school safety concern is to know about them, even if the threat turns out to be transient, or not a danger to GLPS students or staff. We appreciate all of the students and families who either called us or law enforcement to share their concern about the post today. It is always better to call and have it turn out to be a non issue than to think something is not important and ignore it. As a reminder, if a situation is not a potential immediate emergency, you can also use the Okay2Say tip line to report concerns. I do also want to remind you, however, that social media speculation is not helpful in situations like these. In fact, it can create situations that pull resources away from our ability to effectively investigate and communicate, because oftentimes social media posts contain information that may be incorrect or contrary to the communications that we are sending out, which can create additional angst, fear, and confusion for students and families. We will always provide factual communications in a timely manner, and we ask that you rely on those emails, texts, and website posts as opposed to social media posts to understand what is happening.

This is also a good time to remind you all about our partnership with the Eaton County prosecutor’s office, and Prosecutor Lloyd’s stance on threats in our county. Please re-read the letter I shared with you in the fall. Like GLPS, the prosecutor’s office takes threats seriously, and they are very supportive of our school personnel and law enforcement when it comes to school safety. In the case of today’s events, the concerning post originated out of state, but any threats made that are connected to GLPS will be taken seriously by Prosecutor Lloyd and his office.

Shifting to another potential danger, severe weather, we conduct drills throughout the year so that when actual bad weather hits, staff and students know exactly what to do. That was certainly the case on Wednesday; as soon as the tornado sirens went off, both staff and students reported to safe spaces in the building. Using our available technologies, building and district leaders stayed in regular communication and monitored the National Weather Service alerts to determine when it was safe to resume regular programming. I know that it was scary for some of our students, especially our little ones, but because of the work of our staff and students throughout the year, everyone was prepared to handle the situation correctly. Thankfully, we did not experience anything more than some rain and strong winds, but our preparation allowed the situation to be as successful as possible.

Thank you, as always, for your support of GLPS. We appreciate the opportunity to work with your students every single day, and we take our responsibility to keep them safe while they are with us very, very seriously. As always, if you have questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out. Have a wonderful weekend. 

As always, I am #proudtobeacomet!

Dr. Bill Barnes
Superintendent of Schools

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