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 School Safety: If Students & Staff Aren’t Safe, Schools Can’t Focus Anywhere Else

1/8/2020 12:00 AM

​We have a vital responsibility to keep our staff and your children safe. That's a responsibility we don't take lightly. Every time we say it, we mean it with the most sincerity: The safety of our students and staff is our No. 1 priority. Always. If our students and staff are not safe, we can't afford to focus our attention anywhere else.

As the Director of Security for Rockford Public Schools, I take all threats seriously and treat them as credible. All threats are vetted with a thorough investigation that includes staff, administrators, law enforcement and other community organizations.

Students are major players in ensuring our schools are a safe place. Students regularly share information with their teachers, staff members, coaches and administrators – no matter how small it might feel. That system works, and we are grateful for that.

We work closely with law enforcement, and Rockford Police share our priority of keeping our students and staff safe. I asked Sgt. Tim Speltz of the Rockford Police to share some insight:

"The police department takes every threat seriously and we vigorously investigate each individual threat," Speltz said. "Fortunately, the threats that have occurred in the past were generally a joke made by a student, or an attempt to gain attention from other students. I encourage all parents to have a conversation with their child about the seriousness of making threats and potential consequences.

It is imperative that students understand the potential consequences for making a threat. The Winnebago County State's Attorney Office routinely authorizes Felony Disorderly Conduct charges for these types of threats. Additional consequences include the individual detained in The Winnebago County Juvenile Detention Center.

The Rockford Police Department takes pride in the close partnership we have developed with The Rockford School District. This police partnership extends to the school administration, teachers, students, parents and additional staff. The Police Department is appreciative to those students, parents and staff who have had the courage to come forward and notify the police of threats made in the past."

I want to echo Sgt. Speltz's comments. Parents, as our partners, we need your help. If your child tells you about something that happened at school – and if it doesn't sound right or you have questions – contact your school's main office staff. They will bring the information to the right people at the district, including me. We have the appropriate resources, and we will use those resources to investigate. If you don't want to directly relay information, you can anonymously call the switchboard – 815-966-3000 – and leave a nonemergency tip, or you can submit information anonymously on Let's Talk. You're also welcome to contact the switchboard and ask for me directly. If it's an emergency, always call 911.

I also want to make sure parents and students know what support is available for our students, so I asked Alex Brewington, Director of Student Support from our Student Services and Alternative Learning team, to share her insight:

"At Rockford Public Schools, we are aware that we have students who have been impacted by trauma, by loss, and by situations that are out of their control. We want school to be a safe place for all of our students. Within our school community, we have more than 150 student service personnel working to help hurting students utilizing counseling and research-based social emotional curricula. We provide whole school, small group, and individual services to provide the intervention that the student needs. In addition, we have an anti-bully team who is available to go into schools and provide anti-bully presentations when requested by the principal. RPS 205 is a no-bully zone, and students who have been investigated and found to be a bully face heavy consequences and potential legal action."

I will reiterate the fact that the safety of our students and staff is our No. 1 priority. Always.

Listen to a 205 VIBE Podcast about school safety:

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-Listen on Spotify.

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