Dearborn Supt. Addresses School Safety in Letter to Community

Supt. Brian Whiston sent out this letter to parents and community members Monday following Friday's shooting in a Connecticut school.

Dear Community Members,

I know all of us are deeply saddened by the tragic event that occurred in Connecticut on Friday. As rational people we struggle to understand actions that are totally irrational and try to make sense of explanations that never will.  

When we see the faces of the innocent children, the victims of this tragedy, we can’t help but see the faces of our own students. When we hear of the heroic principal and teachers risking their lives to save students, we feel the pain and sympathize with those who knew and worked with these brave individuals. For all of us our hearts are filled with sorrow and as a community we offer our thoughts and prayers to the families in Newtown.

Our staff does an excellent job of having “the pulse” of their school and over the next few days will be paying extra attention to how the students are reacting to this tragedy. If any child seems to be overly upset or concerned about this event, please know that we have outstanding resources available in our schools and students can talk with our highly-trained professional team of Social Workers and Psychologists.

Throughout our district we will be keeping the following in mind:

Age appropriate discussion in the right classroom context will most likely occur but should not dominate the conversation of the day. This is especially true in the elementary grades where any in-depth conversation is best left to the parents. 

With younger students it is important to make sure they feel safe at school; we will remind them:

  • That although this was a very tragic event that has made us all very sad, it did not   happen  at one of our schools, it did not happen in Dearborn, it occurred in another part of our country.
  • Although adults and the news are talking a lot about this tragedy, this is rare and nothing like this has ever happened here.
  • Policemen, parents, teachers, and all school staff are here to keep them safe. 

As always we want to work with our parents to create the safest possible learning environment.  We ask that parents keep the following tips in mind:

  • Over-exposure to this horrible event at home may lead to students feeling distressed, overwhelmed, and frightened. It is important to limit the amount of exposure to this event, especially younger children. 
  • 24 hour news channels will show the same footage over and over.  For younger children they may not be able to understand that this event happened once and is not happening again and again.
  • School is a safe place and we do have security procedures in place.

As a district it is important for parents to know that we continually work to ensure the safety of students and staff during the school day. We have always and will continue to follow these procedures:

  • All staff must have their ID on them at all times and it should be visible.
  • All visitors must sign in at the main office and receive a visitor’s pass.
  • Students and staff are not to open any exterior doors for anyone.
  • As required, all schools practice their emergency drills throughout the year.
  • All schools do have a detailed security/crisis plan in place and it is reviewed each year.
  • The district has an excellent relationship with the police department and works closely with them to review security protocol and procedures.

We have been in contact with the Dearborn Police Chief and he has informed us that there will be a stepped up police presence around our schools over the next few days.

In the days ahead there will be much discussion about what we as a nation can do to try and stop these types of tragedies from occurring again. I’m sure that there will also be opportunities to support the families and community of Newtown. I hope that all of us personally, and as a district, can be involved in these activities. Although time may mend the wound that shattered this quiet community, those who were lost will never be forgotten.

Please know that by working together we will ensure that all of our schools continue to be a safe place for students to learn and achieve.


Brian J. Whiston
Superintendent, Dearborn Public Schools

Rich December 18, 2012 at 02:18 AM
Lee - me again! If the 'person' (?) is crazy I really don't think that they are going to even think about anything happening to themselves until after they have inflicted serious injury on as many others as possible.
Rich December 18, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Well said!
AbuHak December 18, 2012 at 02:45 AM
The policy of DPS is to create policy when the situation dictates it. Always reactionary.
kate alkhatib December 18, 2012 at 04:26 AM
I love in the letter to parents how he states that the Dearborn police will be stepping up patrols around schools for the next few days. What about after? Seems to me that he didn't do anything to address anyone's concerns.
Lee Jacobsen December 18, 2012 at 06:36 AM
Marrooned, good points! All after the fact and using 20-20 hindsight. As we saw in CT, teachers were faced with an impossible situation, yet it happened. All were heros, and I suspect, if the certain type of trained teacher you mentioned had a gun nearby, even a purse pocket pistol, that crazy may have been stopped with return fire, even if it were shot into the ceiling to give him pause. We will never know. But we do know what can be done as a consequence of the crazie's actions, and one immediate step is to role play. Tomorrow, can you, as a parent, just walk into Dearborn High School, walk down the hall, and not be questioned immediately? A crazy is not going to get a pass from the principal's office. Crazy folk don't follow the rules, or law, remember? Recently a crazy, posing as a young 32 old policeman, killed 84, many of them young folk, at a summer camp in Norway, a country with draconian gun control laws. Yet this crazy guy managed to do his thing. He waved and beckoned kids over to him, and when the kids came, he shot them point blank. He did this multiple times. He was dressed as a police officer. The kids did not have time to check his badge. The same hand-wringing occurred, why didn't anyone see that he was a fake cop? Eventually, he was wounded, and surrendered. Story here. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2017709/Anders-Behring-Breivik-arrested-holiday-island-massacre.html See a pattern? We need to shoot back...


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