Spokane Public Schools uses parent survey to reflect on student safety

Spokane Public Schools uses parent survey to reflect on student safety

Countless attacks on and threats against schools have put students and their parents on edge last year. One threat in particular ignited a conversation at Spokane Public Schools, where thousands of parents weighed in on a school safety survey.

More than 2,500 parents, staff and community members spoke out on the survey with their biggest concerns being students’ mental health, having a single entry point to Spokane schools, and making sure the district communicates with parents during threatening situations.

For Monica Rodriguez, this is personal. Back in May, her daughter and hundreds of other students stayed home from school after Lewis and Clark High School was targeted in a social media threat.

“I asked my daughter, I said, you know, ‘how do you feel about this?’ and she, not speaking for her, but she was, emotionally, she felt it was, it scared her,” she said. “We all just felt that a couple days of reassurance was worth it, worth the safety of our kids, versus sending them into a situation that we didn’t know what was going on.”

That threat is what sparked this survey.

“We’ve been paying attention, obviously, to the national discussion that’s been happening and the things that have been going on around the country at schools,” said district spokesperson Brian Coddington. “We’ve had some of our incidents that have raised concern here in Spokane Public Schools, so collectively that’s fueled our conversation.”

Coddington told KXLY the district is piloting a few new techniques at Lewis and Clark High School specifically, like having a single point of entry and a more thorough check-in process.

“Whether metal detectors play a part in that… There was a robust discussion about arming officers or arming teachers. Those don’t appear to be popular topics at this point in time, so that’s good feedback for us to see,” Coddington said.

It’s been an encouraging year for parents like Rodriguez.

“Sending my kids to school now, I don’t even think twice about it,” Rodriguez said. “I feel that they’re in a safe situation. I feel that the school is protecting them the best they can.”

He said SPS is also working with Safe Havens International, a safety consultant, to see what else can be done to make students more safe. There will be a full report released this spring.

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