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District 303 superintendent: New initiatives in reaction to shooting

Published: Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 10:01 a.m. CDT

The following message was sent from District 303 Superintendent of Schools Dr. Donald Schlomann to parents of District 303 students via email on Sunday:

The tragic events which occurred last Friday in Connecticut have resulted in a lot of discussion nationwide about a range of related topics. My observation is that those discussions have centered on taking reactive actions in an attempt to provide certainty that the events at Sandy Hook School will never happen again.  

As the passage of time has revealed more of the facts about Friday’s events in Connecticut, much of the focus has turned to mental health and identifying individuals who may be struggling emotionally. I would like to share with you some initiatives we are going to take in St. Charles District 303.

As you might expect, our staff will review all our security measures just as many other school districts are doing. More importantly, starting Monday our student support teams will review student connections with school, friends, and family. The goal is to identify students who might be struggling and then provide them with the assistance they need long before they harm themselves, or others.

Just as we did on the topic of student suicide and depression, we are going to turn our attention to prevention. We are going to utilize the power that resides in our teachers and staff members and their knowledge of and familiarity with the kids who attend our schools. 

It is easy in today's world to lose the connection that we all need with others. Therefore, our teachers and student support teams will be monitoring student’s reactions to Friday’s event and in addition, put in a place a process to review each student's connection with school, friends, and family. The goal is to identify students who might be struggling and then provide them with the assistance they need long before they harm themselves, or others.

We confronted the issue of student suicide and depression together because we accepted the idea that we, as a community, all have a responsibility for the students in District 303. I believe that applying that same type community attentiveness to students who might be struggling emotionally is the best way to do as much as we can to prevent a tragedy such as the one that occurred on Friday. District 303 is ready to accept the lead in this initiative.

If you are like me and you are struggling to make sense of this tragedy, perhaps the good that can come from all this is a more open discussion about mental health. We cannot afford to allow our students to withdraw from others.

You are a very important component in assuring the safety of our students. You know your student best and if you know there is anything that is troubling them, let us know so we can work with you to get the help your student needs. Together we can work to do our best for all students.

Donald D. Schlomann  PhD donald.schlomann@d303.org

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