On February 7, 2013 two fifth grade students planned to carry out a plot to kill classmates at the Fort Colville Elementary school. Luckily, a fourth grade student saw one of these boys with a knife and reported it to an adult averting the disaster. The school district called the police and the parents of the intended victims, but the rest of the school district remained uninformed for at least 4 more hours.
I found that many parents learned about the incident through the noon report on KCRK-FM 92.1. The school district did send out a recorded message on the school messenger system several hours later.
Why didn’t the school inform every parent immediately? My personal theory is because they wanted to make sure they kept the kids in school until they received a full day’s pay for them before they notified the parents. I believe students needed to be in school until 12:30 for the school to be paid a full day.
Were all the people in charge of making the decision to postpone notifying the parents in agreement? The superintendent, all principals and all school board directors. Any principal has the authority to make the decision on their own.
Did our administrators put their budget before the safety of our children? It’s easier to see the totality of this if we
put it in more simplistic terms. What if your kitchen had a small fire in it at 8 o’clock in the morning, but the babysitter chose not to tell you until you arrived home in the evening? Even if the disaster was averted, you should have been notified. Am I wrong?
Did the school also make an effort to withhold the details from the public? Most of the relevant information we received was from the media – and much of it was days or weeks later. Would you like to hear from the radio station on your lunch hour that there was an incident at your home hours earlier? And then days later, you find out important details about how it started, again from the media? If the situation is wrong for a babysitter and one child, then it is exponentially wrong for a school district with thousands of children. I believe the school district should have been up front and open with us.
What happened after the incident? They had a “Safety Forum” on February 13, 2013 at the Colville High School Auditorium. This would appear to be open, honest and pro-active in their duties for keeping our children safe, but let’s look at the details to find out.
The safety forum was an official school board meeting. All school board members were there along with the Superintendent and guest speakers. By law, all board meetings should be listed. But if you go to our school boards web page and look at February 13, 2013 to see if you can find a meeting listed. It’s not there, but I’ll give you the link so you can see for yourself: http://www.boarddocs.com/wa/colsd/Board.nsf/public
Why omit this meeting from official records?
Let’s move on to the recap of the meeting:
In the March 4, 2013 school board meeting, the board did a recap of the meeting. You can find that information here: http://www.boarddocs.com/wa/colsd/Board.nsf/public# Click on the “Safety Forum Recap”, then it will pop up on the right side of the screen, then you have to click on it again to see the document.
I have also made two posts so that you can see the raw data for yourself. Links to these posts are at the bottom of this article.
You will also see a recap on the Public Forum School Board Governance Standards – Goals and Objectives, but I am not discussing that in this post because it is a separate issue.
School Boards Categorization Results of the Listings:
37% Kid’s Internal Resources – Student Training, character education, Mental Health, etc.
18% Weapons Detection and Response – Security at the doors, searching backpacks and lockers, etc.
14% Pro-Active School Response – Teachers, Staff and Administrators actions
11% Partnering with Parents
My category of the listings:
15% School Policies and Procedures
12% Student Training
7% Mental Health of Students
7% Weapons Detection
I had more categories, but these are the top ones listed.My list shows that the most important thing the public listed was that the school set and follow strict policies and procedures. This was followed by intervention, student training and mental health of students (ignoring the firearms discussion).
I’m not saying my interpretation is better, it’s just different. I’m sure if there were ten people categorizing the information, they would all come up with different categories and numbers. I believe the solution to this problem should have been to hold several conversations between the school and the public so people could discuss the information and come up with solutions to make both sides happy.
These are our children. When the school is taking care of our children and their lives, they need to discuss their plans with us, not just make a rushed decision and never talk to us again.
To be fair, the school did put together a Security Ad/Hoc Committee. This committee was put together to come up with solutions to security in our schools. You can see evidence of this committee in the March 27, 2013 school board agenda item 6.03 http://www.boarddocs.com/wa/colsd/Board.nsf/public. The school is a public entity which means that by law, they need to share this information with the public.
I was curious to know what the Security Ad/Hoc Committee considered important for our children’s safety, so in May, 2013, I put in a public records request asking to see that information, but it was not given to me. In July of 2014, I put in another public records request for the information but still I have received nothing. Why would they hide information they are discussing about the safety of our children?
SCHOOL’s OVERALL SOLUTION?
– Install expensive electronic key locks.
– Tell us that the programs they already have in place are working as intended.
Really? That’s it?
– How does this detect weapons?
– How does this stop the bullying?
– How does this help with mental health?
– How does this train the students?
– How does this provide intervention to problems before they start?
– How does this help with communication?
– How does this provide parental involvement?
– How does this provide staff training?
– How does this address volunteers?
– How does this make sure the staff is adhering to their policies and procedures?
– Is this the type of security the people were asking for?
I feel it’s important for the public to have the raw data so they can draw their own conclusions, so I have made two posts to share it with you.
Photo’s of safety forum discussion showing vote tallies https://colvilleparents.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/safety-forum-photos/
List of votes shown in order of highest to lowest https://colvilleparents.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/safety-forum-lists-sorted-highest-to-lowest-votes/