Seattle Public Schools security: Superintendent’s update

Tomorrow morning will mark exactly one week since the Sandy Hook school massacre in Connecticut. Many will pause to remember, in West Seattle as well as elsewhere – as noted here last night, a moment of silence is requested at 9:30 am Friday, and all are invited to the 5 pm Saturday vigil on Alki. Today, Seattle Public Schools‘ Superintendent José Banda has just shared another update on campus security:

As we head into winter break, I know many of us are still reflecting on the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut and how we can work together to ensure our schools are a safe place for our students.

I want to take a moment to let you know how important safety is at Seattle Public Schools, what steps we’ve taken since last Friday and what we plan to do in the future to protect our students.

We take the safety of our students very seriously. Once a month, each school conducts at least one safety-related drill. Every school has a safety plan that outlines procedures for prevention, mitigation, response and recovery in the event of a crisis. We have a team of security specialists divided by region who are in schools and able to respond quickly in times of a crisis.

After hearing of the news last Friday, we asked our principals to be extra vigilant in their schools.

This week our schools have continued this vigilance, monitoring entrances, hallways and any visitors to our buildings. Additionally, we are continuing to work with the Seattle Police Department. Officers provided extra support to our schools and coordinated additional patrols in our school zones this past week. We are grateful for the ongoing partnership.

In the New Year, we will continue our increased focus on school safety. In the weeks to come, our security team will meet with principals to review safety plans and ensure each building is equipped to handle potential incidents.

While we already have a strong partnership with the Seattle Police Department, we are jointly forming a working group to look at ways to improve our school safety. As more information becomes available from Connecticut and as our nation continues to have discussions about school safety, this working group will review recommendations from the Department of Education and law enforcement. Together, we will work on sustainable plans for implementing improved safety measures across the District.

I know many of you are asking how you can best help. If you have suggestions or ideas specifically for your school, please contact your principal. If you have a suggestion to improve the safety across the District, please email us at

Our hearts continue to mourn for the students and staff in Newtown and for the loss of innocence so many of our young children across the nation have suffered. Seattle Public Schools staff will work hard in the New Year to continue making safety our top concern.

I hope you all are able to spend time with loved ones over the next two weeks. Although my children are grown, I am looking forward to giving them an extra hug when I see them during the winter break.

In West Seattle, Chief Sealth announced a “closed campus” for this week, and WSHS reiterated its policy for locked doors around most of the campus.

7 Replies to "Seattle Public Schools security: Superintendent's update"

  • A December 20, 2012 (6:19 pm)

    We got a robo call saying a letter was sent home today and no letter. Thank goodness WSB got the letter. Geez.

  • shihtzu December 20, 2012 (6:56 pm)

    The letter was emailed.

  • Sarah December 20, 2012 (10:03 pm)

    Thank you for the email address. I think it is long overdue for the schools to take security seriously. There are security and metal detectors in some of the high schools but nothing protecting younger children. I sent my email and hope others do too. I got the phone call but no email.

  • Teacher December 20, 2012 (11:55 pm)

    Sarah, As a high school teacher in Seattle, I don’t know of any area high schools that use metal detectors at the door.
    That said, as the parent of two elementary kids we didn’t even get the robo call.
    Unfortunately, money spent on more security is less money spent on the real reason schools exist. Finding the proper balance is important.

  • tk December 21, 2012 (12:09 pm)

    Agree with Teacher’s “proper balance”. From WSHS’s webpage, the locked door policy is actually new, and WSHS will be the only high school after this week to continue with a lock down policy:
    “In order to increase security at West Seattle High School, starting Monday, December 17, we are limiting access. All outside doors, except the doors in the west courtyard will remain locked. Staff, students, and all visitors must enter through those doors. Any visitor must go directly to the main office and sign in. Visitors must wear a badge, and placement must be visible. Visitor policy is not new, but will continue to be enforced by all staff. Thank you for helping to increase the safety of our students and staff.”
    As secure as it may sound, it’s a false sense of security and there is not much balance in this policy- Anyone can walk straight through the only unlocked front door any time with no security checking (this entrance is at the other side of the school from the main office). This policy locks all students and teachers from entering school from all of the other entrances- even before school starts the doors are all locked! This type of lock down is not a district policy. Indeed, WSHS and Steven’s elementary school are now the only ones to lock down their school on a full time basis.
    Some balance in district wide security policies might make more sense?

  • Evergreen December 21, 2012 (12:47 pm)

    Neither public school our kiddo has attended has had a locked front door with a buzzer, monitored entry of visitors, alarms on the windows, or video cameras. The gunman in Connecticut caused widespread devastation in LESS THAN THREE MINUTES.

    The way security is addressed by SPS is a farce. They don’t have the staffing or money to provide adequate security. Doing drill runs with teachers and raising awareness is simply not enough.

  • Evergreen December 21, 2012 (1:22 pm)

    …hmm, cop in every school suggested by the NRA. First time ever that I agree with Republicans.If you can’t provide the infrastructure, then perhaps an armed officer on the grounds.

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