illustration of blue jigsaw puzzle with word community

An Update on School Safety

illustration of blue jigsaw puzzle with word communitySafety At Charlottesville City Schools: An Update (April 25, 2018)

Safety is our top priority at Charlottesville City Schools. This is true every year, but recent national events have brought even  greater attention to this issue.

What Have We Done Previously?

First, we should reflect on the broad array of safety practices that are in place or under development at Charlottesville City Schools. These practices reflected two strategies, both those that have traditionally been associated with security (such as locking doors and implementing threat assessment teams) and other approaches that have been proven to advance schools’ safety and wellness (such as promoting a positive school culture and supporting emotional health).

What Have We Done This Spring?

We follow best practices — and in the case of now-nationally accepted threat assessment protocols, we helped pioneer best practices. Even so, we are always reevaluating and listening to learn what we can do better.

Several items are new this spring:

  • Presently, we have an ongoing project to improve classroom locks and are researching possible next steps for common-sense facilities solutions.
  • In addition, in March 2018, the Charlottesville School Board approved a Resolution on Gun Violence Prevention.
  • Recently, the Charlottesville Police Department announced that they are providing a new school resource officer (SRO) position that will strengthen their community policing efforts in  our elementary schools. The new SRO will begin visiting elementary schools on April 30.
  • We received recognition (again) for our work implementing the Virginia Tiered Systems of Support with an emphasis on mental health. Click here for the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s review of our efforts.
  • In addition, this spring, we have done a lot of teaching and listening (see next section).

Teaching and Listening: Spring 2018

We have held a number of events this spring to explain what we do and to learn what we can do differently or better. On March 15, we held a community forum on school safety featuring the expertise of national school safety expert Dr. Dewey Cornell, updates from Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Kim Powell, and input from Interim Chief of Police Thierry Dupuis. See below for an update and slides from Dr. Cornell’s presentation.

Other teaching and listening events:

  • Working with our partners in the Charlottesville Trauma Network, we cosponsored a workshop called “Trauma in the Context of School Safety” on March 26.
  • We have worked with local media to promote understanding of this topic.
  • We cooperated with student-leaders in their efforts to participate in national walk-outs related to gun violence.
  • At meetings, via emails, and in other ways, we have communicated with staff, parents, students, and community members.
  • We conducted a staff survey to hear the specific concerns and priorities of our staff members.
  • We hosted Del. David Toscano  at Greenbrier and CHS so that staff members and community partners could share their concerns and ideas. Del. Toscano sits on Virginia’s newly created House Select  Committee on School Safety.

Next Steps

  • We will continue to learn and take steps to promote school safety, responding to expert advice and to feedback from our community.
  • We will monitor the national conversation on school safety, including national experts’ Call for Action to Prevent Gun Violence in the United States of America and other similar recommendations from state and national education groups.
  • We will continue to communicate with staff, parents, and community partners about these issues.

Previous Updates to This Page (March 16, 2018)

On Thursday, March 15, we hosted a community forum on school safety at Charlottesville High School. National school security expert Dr. Dewey Cornell, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Kim Powell, and Interim Chief of Police Thierry Dupuis  presented on best practices, offered updates on Charlottesville City Schools, and answered questions from among the 100+ community members who attended. For an overview of the forum agenda and topics discussed, click here.

Dr. Cornell leads the Virginia Youth Violence Project, a research group composed of faculty and graduate students in the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. Dr. Cornell  and his colleagues conduct research on youth violence prevention and school safety, and provide training and consultation on topics such as threat assessment, bullying prevention, and forensic psychology.  To view his slideshow presentation, click here.

Related materials:

News coverage:

Message from Dr. Rosa Atkins to the Charlottesville City Schools Community (March 8, 2018)

As you know, tragic events of this year — most recently in Florida — have highlighted the importance of school safety.

On Thursday, March 15, we will host a community forum on school safety at 7pm at Charlottesville High School (in B commons). National school security expert Dr. Dewey Cornell and Interim Chief of Police Thierry Dupuis will be present to let you know about best practices and to answer your questions.

In addition, you have likely heard of upcoming student-led events responding to gun violence (see details, below). At CHS and Buford, teachers and administrators have been in communication with student leaders so that we are respecting their rights, keeping them safe, and following our policies.

On Wednesday, March 14, some Buford and CHS students plan to gather at a designated on-campus site for seventeen minutes to show solidarity with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The Charlottesville Police and some staff/teachers will be on hand to assure student safety.

We will remain in communication with our student-leaders about future events. It is our goal to use occasions such as this as “teachable moments” so our students — regardless of their political beliefs — can continue to learn how to engage in our community and world to make a positive impact.

Dr. Rosa Atkins

National Dates We are Monitoring for Student-Led Events in Response to Gun Violence

Date: Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Event: At 10 am, some CHS/Buford students plan to join a national walk-out for 17 minutes in solidarity with the students and staff of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. At 6pm, there is a related community event beginning at the amphitheatre at UVa.

Date: Saturday, March 24, 2018
Event: March to take place in Washington, D.C.; possible local events across the country

Date: Friday, April 20, 2018
Event: Possible national school walk-outs at 10 am on the anniversary of Columbine HS shootings