Safety and Security in Deer Park Schools
Deer Park is committed to preventative practices that minimize risk and maximize school safety. As adults with the primary job of keeping kids safe, we regularly discuss how certain behaviors and approaches, when combined with a commitment to building meaningful relationships with kids, dramatically increase safety for everyone in our system. First and foremost, school safety is about prevention, and prevention is as much about practice as it is about planning and preparedness.
Washington State law requires schools to conduct at least one drill in every month of the school year, including practice for shelter-in-place, lockdown, and evacuation (CLICK HERE for more information). Each building in our district has a schedule for practicing processes and procedures in response to various emergencies. Our administrative team reviews plans annually and regularly consults with local law enforcement, fire department, and other emergency response agencies. In addition to regular security reviews in which we analyze the safety and security of our facilities, every school in our district is equipped with security cameras and communication tools that help to increase safety and security.
If there is an emergency at your child’s school, you can help us by attending the following:
- Check the DPSD homepage at www.dpsd.org – It is our goal to provide credible, accurate, and helpful information to the public as soon as possible. Expect to see additional posts (or updates to previously posted information) on the district website as necessary. We understand the need to provide updates to families and local media, but parents must be aware that emergency situations can change rapidly – first and foremost, school administrators are working hard to deal directly with emergency situations. Parents should be aware that information received from sources other than school administrators or district personnel may be inaccurate. Until information comes directly from district officials or in the form of a statement from the district or law enforcement, please understand that you may be only getting a limited or uninformed perspective. In order to get information out to families, we will use our SchoolMessenger notification system to contact parents and guardians with updates and information as soon as we are able and as soon as is appropriate. Please use Skyward Family Access to ensure your emergency contact information is always up to date at your child’s school so that you receive these updates.
- In the event of a significant emergency event, it is important that you do not immediately call or go to the school – When emergencies take place (whether we’re dealing with things like a fire or a gas leak, or a violent threat or active shooter) staff at our schools are focused solely on getting everyone to a safe location. Given that the roads around our schools can become quickly snarled and jammed, showing up to one of our schools in an emergency situation will only serve to create unnecessary traffic and could easily prevent emergency vehicles from responding quickly and may put you in harm’s way. If you get a call or text from your child, help her/him remain calm. Remind your child that school staff know what to do in an emergency situation, and will work to keep everyone safe.
- Familiarize yourself with the terms used during emergency situations:
Modified Lockdown: Sometimes used to secure the building from a potential threat outside the building, such as when an unauthorized person is loitering on school grounds or when there is criminal activity in or around the area of our schools. Modified lockdown is used when there are issues inside the building where we’d like to stop “normal” foot-traffic in the building and confine kids to locked spaces – however, in the vast majority of cases, normal classroom operations continue. While exterior doors are sometimes also locked, guests are sometimes allowed in the building and students needing to leave (parents arrive to pick up a child) are allowed to exit the building.
Lockdown: Used when there is a perceived danger or threat inside the building, or there is an imminent threat outside the building. Doors are locked, windows are closed and locked, lights are turned off, and blinds are closed. All building occupants are directed to move away from windows and doors and speak quietly, if at all. Hallways are cleared of students and school staff, and if possible main entry doors are locked. Generally, no one is allowed to enter or exit the building during a lockdown.
Emergency Alert: DPSD has implemented building-wide “panic button” functionality on all phones throughout the district. An emergency alert can be initiated by DPSD staff in the event a violent threat is detected. The alert sounds an audible alarm on all phones in the building and displays a warning message, using all phones and all staff computers in the building to notify others of the presence of a violent threat. The emergency alert triggers immediate lockdown of classrooms and initiates RUN, HIDE, FIGHT procedures.
Evacuation: When students and staff are moved out of the building to a pre-designated safe location.
Shelter-in-place: Used during severe weather or other environmental threats (e.g., air contamination due to a local fire) to keep people safe while remaining indoors.
Frequently Asked Questions
If something doesn’t look right, we would greatly appreciate you reporting it immediately to school administrators or office staff. To report your concern, you can either call the main office at any of our schools, or you can always use our reporting tools that allow you to use text messaging, email, phone, or a website (these reporting tools do allow you to remain anonymous). Click the following link for access to our reporting system: REPORT YOUR CONCERN.
If you are in imminent danger and/or need an immediate fire, police or ambulance response, call 911.
The answer to this question is far more complex than can be answered here, but it is important that a few things are clear. In consultation with law enforcement and emergency response personnel, and in adherence with guidance from the Dept. of Homeland Security, in the event of an active shooter or violent threat Deer Park School District encourages all staff and students to:
- ATTEND TO SITUATIONAL AWARENESS – always be aware of your surroundings.
- ENGAGE IN MINDFUL DECISION MAKING – be thoughtful but also decisive.
- TAKE TIMELY ACTION – don’t hesitate…ACT NOW!
As individuals in our schools and buildings attend to the items above, we empower them to consider three options: running from danger, hiding in a safe place until the threat has passed, or as an option of last resort, fighting (engaging) the shooter or violent threat. Of course, developmental appropriateness is always the primary consideration as district staff train students and practice this protocol.
School staff not only discuss, but also practice these procedures with one another and with students to ensure that everyone understands the need to maximize safety by finding or creating the safest condition possible given the information and resources available. In these circumstances, a principal and his/her team work exceptionally hard to contact emergency services (911) and then district administrators who initiate a crisis planning to gather information on the type and degree of threat and attend to an appropriate response.
When a critical incident impacts one of our schools, we work to notify parents as soon as possible via the SchoolMesseger notification system. It is vital that families ensure emergency contact information is always up to date at your child’s school (you can verfiy and update this information using Skyward Family Access or by calling the main office of the school your child attends). We also encourage you to check the Deer Park website at www.dpsd.org.
Typically, emergency situations are fluid and multiple agencies are involved, so in the event that we’re dealing with a significant incident, communication is coordinated through the “lead agency,” which may cause a delay in notification. We will provide as much credible, accurate and timely information as possible.
Buildings are sometimes placed in modified lockdown for a brief amount of time, when a school is, for example, notified by law enforcement that a search or arrest warrant is being served nearby. Likewise, our schools may receive information about other potentially dangerous threats outside the school. During a modified lockdown, students are brought in from outdoors, but other activities within the school continue as normal. Most modified lockdowns are for very short periods of time. In the vast majority of these cases, or when other drills or minor incidents take place, it is not our practice to notify families. That said, if a modified lockdown lasts longer than approximately 10 minutes or causes major disruption in the normal school day, we will generally notify families of the nature of the incident.
We do! Deer Park School District’s full-time school resource deputy serves as a proactive, uniformed presence in our schools, at many district athletic events, and at community functions on school properties. The deputy strives to have positive interactions with the students in each of our schools and also works to have positive effects on our school community by heightening emphasis on safety. We believe that long-term, “on-site” student and staff safety will be best served through a school and community policing partnership with local law enforcement.
Deer Park’s school resource deputy, or SRD, is employed through the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. We are also pleased to partner with the City of Deer Park on the funding for this position and genuinely appreciate their support. We believe this partnership is a win-win for both the school district and the city.