Letter to the Community About National School Walkouts March 2018
March 12, 2018
Dear Ritenour Community,
Students across the nation are trying to find constructive ways to deal with the tragedy of the school shooting that occurred in Florida. As a result, on March 14 students from across the country are planning to walk out of school for 17 minutes in solidarity with the Florida students, to call for improved gun control laws, and to bring awareness to the issue of gun violence in communities and schools. In addition, we received word of another student walk out planned for April 20, which falls on the anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado.
In Ritenour, students who choose to walk out will be provided an opportunity to gather in a designated area, in an effort to ensure their safety. We will neither encourage nor discourage student walkouts, nor will we discipline students if they choose to participate. Regular activities will continue during the school day on March 14 and any students who participate in the walk out will have an excused absence marked in the absence record.
We recognize that there are widely held and differing opinions about how the nation should react to this tragedy. We want to assure our students and families that we will make certain all students feel safe and respected, no matter what they choose to do. The safety of our students and staff is always our top priority. We will have our school resource officers and additional district administrators on hand to monitor safety and decorum.
Ritenour supports students’ Constitutional rights to a peaceful assembly and free expression. Disorderly conduct that disrupts school operations is not acceptable and will be appropriately handled in accordance with the Student Conduct section of the Parent-Student Handbook.
As a school district, we encourage our students to be actively engaged citizens who are knowledgeable about current events. This can be a learning opportunity that helps our students apply lessons that they are learning in school. We are having conversations with our student leaders at our secondary schools to allow students to express their opinions and ideas, which is an alternative to a walk-out while ensuring student safety inside the building.
I encourage you to speak to your child about their thoughts in response to the tragedy in Florida and any plans they may have regarding the nationwide walkout. Our goal in responding to walkout plans and other forms of peaceful assembly is to support student and staff safety and keep the focus on teaching and learning.
We continue to be very proud of our students and look forward to the positive changes they will make here in Ritenour and beyond. We appreciate the support you provide this community every day.
Dr. Chris Kilbride
Superintendent of Schools
Letter to the Community Feb. 2018
February 15, 2018
Dear Ritenour Families,
In light of yesterday’s horrific school tragedy in Florida, the importance of school safety is at the forefront of our thoughts. It is important to me to ensure school safety remains a priority every day for our students, faculty and staff. Please be assured we are taking the necessary steps to maintain a safe and secure environment for all Ritenour students.
Our emergency response plans are based on the current best practices from both the national and Missouri departments of Homeland Security. We continually review these plans and update them as recommendations are shared with us from these experts.
I also want to assure you that we have strong, ongoing relationships with our local and county police and fire departments to prepare for and respond effectively to all emergencies, including active shooters. Our school resource officers are present in our secondary schools every day and assist our D.A.R.E. officers in our elementary schools when emergencies arise. We appreciate the positive relationships that our local law enforcement officers build with our students and staff throughout the year.
In each of our schools, heightened security measures that are in place every day include keeping exterior doors locked as well as interior doors, including all classrooms while students are learning.
Throughout the school year, our schools have a regular schedule of active intruder drills where staff and students practice how to be safe if an intruder enters their building or school campus. We also conduct drills for emergencies such as fire, severe weather and earthquakes.
Beyond keeping our students and staff physically safe, we recognize that emotional safety is just as important. Our outstanding counseling staff and social workers are available to provide the emotional and social supports to our staff, students and families. They provide support, not only in times of crisis, but also on a daily basis to ensure our students have the emotional supports in place to be successful academically and socially.
As the news continues to unfold about the Florida tragedy, we vow to address fear and uncertainty with empathy and compassion with our students, families and staff. We encourage you to talk with your children and share any concerns you have with their teachers, counselors or principals. We want to share a link with excellent resources from that National Association of School Psychologists that can be helpful as you talk with your children: https://tinyurl.com/y6uc45g6
Your children remain our highest priority each day when they enter our schools. Your support and cooperation during these difficult times is very much appreciated.
Dr. Chris Kilbride
Superintendent of Schools