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March 26, 2018

Dear Parents, Students, Staff and Community,

At the February School Board meeting a group of parents presented their concerns about an incident which started on social media regarding threats to the school, students and staff. Lack of parental notification about this event, any investigation being conducted and the results of the investigation were of primary importance to them. In statements to the Board, parents felt the information provided to them was not adequate; it was not timely nor was detailed enough for them to make decisions about their children's safety in our school buildings or to help alleviate their children's fears about possible events at their school.
The very next day when parents of Zillah School District were concerned about possible events taking place at Zillah's schools a tragedy occurred in another school in America. This brought an even greater sense of urgency and concern to the Zillah community and especially to the parents who attended the School Board meeting seeking answers to "How are you keeping our children safe?", and "What are you going to do to make sure this does not happen here?"
Our Zillah School Board Goals state: The Zillah School District will continue to plan and implement strategies that lead to improvement of student and staff safety and security, and ... continue to improve the security of school campuses and school district property.
We as the Zillah Board of Directors, and the Zillah School District Administration view the safety of our students and staff as a top priority. Our goals and actions confirm this belief.
As a school district we are bound by the laws of school governance. This includes; The Revised Code of Washington, (RCW) and Washington Administrative Codes (WAC) which are the rules of law in Washington State. The Zillah School District Policies and Procedures are written and reviewed by the state legislature, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Washington State School Director's Association, the Washington Education Association, and attorneys who work together to provide legal guidance to each and every school in Washington State. These policies and procedures must adhere to state and federal law. As a Board of Directors we adopt these policies and procedures to ensure ALL students rights are protected as afforded by law; and the administration of these laws are clear and precise so the operation of the school ensures legal protection of those rights.

Policy 4314 and Procedure 4314P - Notification of Threats of Violence or Bodily Harm.
"Students and school employees who are subjects of a threat of violence or harm will be notified of the threats in a timely manner ... Timing and details of the notice will be as extensive as permitted by the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), other legal limitations and the circumstance."

Evaluation of our policies and procedures is an ongoing endeavor. Reviews of our notification procedures enhance the relationship between all of our school partners, (students, staff, parents and community) and benefit all families within ZSD.
A request was made to have a public meeting to address safety within ZSD. Following below, are the many opportunities for parents, staff and community to gather in discussion regarding the safety of their children while they are at school.
During the meeting Mr. Burge, Zillah School District Superintendent, brought up the scheduled parent meeting, April 24, 2018 at 6:00pm in the high school PAC auditorium. Twice yearly, fall and spring Zillah School District holds a parent informational meeting open to the public, where school safety is always an agenda item.
Zillah School District formed a Safety Committee in September of 2013. This was in direct response to parents, like yourselves who were concerned about school safety in light of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. As a result of this committee's work ZSD proposed a Safety and Technology Levy. The community voted to support this levy. Funds collected from this levy have been used to:

• Zillah School District and the Zillah Police Department have partnered to hire a district SRO (School Resource Officer), who is a Zillah Police Department employee, to visit each of the four ZSD campus' each day. His duties are to;

  1. Establish and maintain a working rapport with the school administrator and school staff.
  2. Act as a resource person in the area of law enforcement education.
  3. Conduct criminal investigations of violations of the law on school district property or property immediately surrounding the school district property.
  4. Maintain the peace on school district property. And many others.

• Re-keyed each school to better control access to each building. (Actual keycard access is included in the new High School design)
• Replaced exterior doors with more secure ones. Limited access from exterior doors to any building except by admission from inside the building.
• Installed electronic door locking systems at all main entrances in buildings.
• Installed interior classroom door locks which can be used by a classroom teacher, aid, parent, or student in the event individual classrooms need to be locked from the inside.
• Emergency communication systems. Intercom, telephone and fire alarm upgrades.
• Id badges for all staff to be worn at all times. Custodians, bus drivers, kitchen and lunchroom staff, as well as all visitors.
• Updated and added multiple security camera's at each building. This enables law enforcement and staff to view the cameras from off campus to gather real time video of events at the schools.
• Fencing and gates to inhibit entry to school campus except through one controlled entry.
• Built controlled entry access at ZMS.
• Have provided ALICE Training (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evaluate) to elementary students for the past three years. This training helps children to develop a better understanding of what needs to be done if they ever encounter a "dangerous someone."
• Member of ESD 105 School Safety Operations & Coordination Center (started in fall of 2017)

In addition to the Safety and Technology Levy the Zillah School District proposed and passed a bond for improvements to Zillah High School. The design of the new and updated space will ensure one access point into the building. The main two buildings will be connected and outside access will be limited. The entire campus will be fenced and gated.
Each and every one of our school buildings has been reviewed and evaluated by the Zillah Chief of Police and our regional safety expert, Randy Town to determine what needed to be done from a student safety perspective and also from a first responder's perspective. We also have to be mindful of the men and women who, in the case of a security/safety breach need access to our facilities, plus provide as much real time data as possible for assessment.

Along with all of the physical safety measures implemented at each school building there has been training provided to all staff and students on what to do in the event of a security breach. The Zillah School District hosted a valley wide active shooter drill. All state and local law enforcement, emergency management and emergency medical agencies were involved. From this drill all agencies sat down after the drill to assess the procedure. Valuable information was shared on what went right and what had to be fixed.
Since that drill on May 2, 2013, the district has developed an active shooter plan at each of the buildings, and training for the students and staff at each building; being mindful of the age appropriate level of education. All students have participated in such drills over the course of these last several years. The district provides student education in each of the buildings in their Character Education Programs and Advisories. What to do in the event of an emergency, and where to go in the event a potential situation at their school.
Again, we encourage you to participate in our spring Parents Meeting on April 24, 2018 at 6:00pm. This meeting is a district wide meeting so anyone is welcome. A significant portion of the meeting is directed to the issue of school safety. Agenda's of the meeting will be available a week prior to the meeting.

All of us appreciate your time and efforts on behalf of your children and as a direct result all persons who walk onto any one of our campuses. We hope to see you at the parent meeting so this discussion can continue.

Sandra Adams
Zillah School Board of Directors, Chair