Safety Questions and Answers
We’ve received a few questions regarding our decisions and response to the safety issue on March 13th. These are great questions worthy of a shared response.
When will the suspect be released?
This is an issue determined by the court system. I understand he was scheduled for arraignment on March 14th. This person is a resident of Snohomish County.
Is there an ongoing threat?
The evidence says no. In speaking with law enforcement officials who met with the accused, they were comfortable the threat level was low.
Why didn’t you put the school in lockdown as a precaution?
There was no direct, implied, or imminent threat to or around the school on Tuesday. Law enforcement was on campus and helped our school officials make the decisions regarding our response. Our goal is always to keep people safe and to keep things as normal as possible.
If there was no actual threat, why all the warnings?
There were multiple reports that people were sharing information on social media, text, etc. regarding a possible dangerous situation at or around the school. We wanted to try to get to the facts of the situation and also let people know we were working on it. We decided to put information out publicly to let everyone know we were actively involved in responding to the reports, and that we were coordinating with law enforcement.
One thing that would help all of us greatly is for people to avoid sharing information via social media and text unless you can personally verify it as fact. The school district will put out information via multiple sources and you are always welcome to contact us or law enforcement with information you are hearing.
Is it true the co-op preschool was not notified? Will there be protocols put in place to keep them informed in the future?
One of the gifts of any emergency is we are able to learn important lessons. We will most definitely have a protocol for taking note of any and all groups on campus during a future emergency or drill and take steps to inform and include them.
What else is being done to keep our children and staff safe?
The district has a safety committee that meets regularly and is revising our emergency plans. This process was underway prior to the March 13th situation. We are meeting with other community leaders and first responders to coordinate our efforts with them. Our plan will include emergency response protocols, information for parents, training for staff, a comprehensive drill schedule, and scenarios we can discuss regularly to strengthen our skills and response.
Why do people make so many mistakes in responding to emergencies?
Even the best plan is not a “one size fits all” plan. Things happen quickly, and much of the information we use to make decisions may be inaccurate or incomplete.
We also know that these situations are stressful for all involved. One of the things that happens after the event is over is hindsight. We are all relaxed and can see the things we could have done differently. We also have the gift of knowing more of the facts.
One thing that happens to many of us after a stressful or traumatic incident is “hyper-vigilance”. We see things that others should have done, and we have a stronger than normal sense of right and wrong. This is actually a symptom of post-traumatic stress and is quite common. We have already begun the conversations about what worked well and what we could have done better. We will continue to learn from this and other emergencies to keep our schools and communities even safer.
What can I do to help?
- Monitor your own and others’ social media. Take care not to engage in gossip or rumor, even if the situation is stressful or worrisome.
- Talk to your family members about how to be safe. “If you see something, say something.” Likewise, if you hear something, or if you get a gut feeling that something is wrong, let someone know.
- Work with facts and acknowledge feelings. We are living in a time where fear is heightening our sense of insecurity. We need to validate the feelings, and also work to make decisions based on factual information. Taking time to sort out what is known, what is unclear, and what is verified to be untrue or a rumor can help tremendously.
- Have face-to-face conversations with people. If you have concerns make an appointment and talk with the person who can help you. The administrators here in La Conner value time talking with students, staff, parents, and community.
- Understand that we can’t always share all the information we have. Privacy and confidentiality are real considerations for us.
- Know that we consistently are working to strengthen the safety of our already safe schools.
- Encourage your family members to be kind to all. We can be friendly even if we aren’t friends.
Compiled by Superintendent Whitney Meissner on Thursday, March 15