Dear Maryland Education Community:
The events of February 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida have shaken every educator, parent and student to their core. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the students, families, school system and community affected by this senseless tragedy.
Student safety is of paramount concern to all of us. The safety of our children is our core value as a society and the foundation for learning in our schools.
As Chair of the governing board for the Maryland Center for School Safety, I have convened an emergency meeting of the board to take place on Monday, February 26 to ensure that every resource available is being maximized to strengthen school safety throughout our State. The Maryland State Department of Education and the Maryland Center for School Safety stand ready to assist all school systems with resources, technical assistance and training in an effort to keep our children and educators safe from harm. In the near future, the Center will be holding a state-wide safety meeting to discuss key elements of school safety, including responses to an active shooter situation.
In addition, two key training events have already been scheduled for next month:
- The Center will be hosting the 2018 Maryland School Safety Initiative, in partnership with Michele Gay of Safe and Sound Schools. The subject: “Recovering the School Community in Crisis.” The trainings will take place in Worcester County on March 13, Carroll County on March 14, and Prince George’s County on March 15.
- On March 21-22, a two-day Behavioral Threat Assessment Training led by Dr. Gene Deisinger, a subject matter expert, will be held in Montgomery County, which is hosting the event.
We must not only focus on improving security measures, but we must leverage local and state of Maryland services to intervene early, as well as provide supports and counseling to troubled students. We must implement and improve threat assessment teams that include experts in counseling, instruction, school administration, and law enforcement. School cultures must encourage the trust that allows for students, parents and community members to report information that may ultimately prevent a school shooting.
The MSDE and the Maryland Center for School Safety are placing the highest urgency on actions to improve school safety. Together we can unite to make our schools safe places for teaching and learning.
Karen B. Salmon, Ph.D.
State Superintendent of Schools