October 10, 2006 > Safe Schools: Your Child's Safety is Our Top Priority
Safe Schools: Your Child's Safety is Our Top Priority
The top priority for the Hayward Unified School District is to provide all students with a safe and secure learning environment. With that goal in mind, the District has a discipline and an equity plan in place that promotes and maintains safety in our schools.
Clear expectations are provided to staff and students that encourage and sustain a culture of pride, accountability, and open communication for all.
The term "safe schools" has multiple meanings. While some parents and students associate the term with providing a safe school building-and that is important-safety also includes such things as being free from harassment, extortion, hate-motivated behavior, and gang-related issues.
Harassment, for example, can take many forms. While we encourage the celebration of diversity, there are those who, for whatever reason, will bully, taunt, verbally abuse and engage in other forms of harassment and unacceptable behavior against their fellow students. None of these actions is acceptable and are dealt with in accordance with the District's discipline policy. Because it is our responsibility to protect all students, our site administrators are directed to address these problems immediately and they are vigilant in this regard.
To support staff in addressing safety issues, School Resource Officers (SROs) and Campus Supervisors are assigned to middle and high school campuses. The SROs are Hayward police officers whose primary responsibility is assuring a safe, secure campus environment. The Campus Supervisors are on site at the high schools and the middle schools 100% of each day providing additional security and assistance. Campus Supervisors are also charged with keeping individuals off the campus when they have no business there.
Each middle school has two full time administrators and each high school has four full time administrators along with teachers, counselors, office staff, and custodial staff. All visitors are required to sign in at the office at each of our school sites for safety and security reasons.
Under consideration as a means of increasing safety at our high schools is the closing of campuses. The current open campus system permits students to leave the campus during their lunch period. The Safe Schools/Closed Campus Task Force was created last year to consider the feasibility of closing high school campuses as a strategy for increasing safety. The Task Force presented its initial findings at a Board Study Session and expects to bring its final recommendation to the Board of Education by January 2007. Should the Task Force recommend and the Board approve closure of the high school campuses, this would become effective at the beginning of the 2007-2008 school year.
We also have an obligation to provide students with a safe, clean facility. Staff routinely inspects the facilities: areas such as sidewalks, trees and shrubs, playing fields, equipment, restrooms and classrooms. They note and correct any safety hazard. A priority is making sure proper equipment and procedures for maintaining a safe facility are provided to each site. Knowing how to turn off the gas main or water line in case of an emergency and having the proper equipment to do so is critical to school safety. Our custodial staff manager is working diligently to ensure that each site is a clean and pleasant place to learn.
What is okay in a safe school? A safe, secure environment tells you it is okay to be unique. It is one in which it is okay for girls to play sports. It is okay to join the school band. It is okay to belong to the chess club, the computer club, or the gay/straight alliance. It is okay to have pride in your school. It is okay to look different. It is okay to have values. It is okay to teach the value of right vs. wrong. It is okay to have a discipline policy and enforce it. It is a safe environment when you feel confident that you can speak to a teacher, counselor, or other adult when you have a problem or need advice.
Statistics show that violence in schools is on the rise in the United States. Studies also show that most students feel safe at school but these same studies show that parents often have the perception that schools are not safe learning environments. We know that there are safety issues we need to address in our schools and Hayward Unified School District is working hard to make sure that we are an exception to the rise in violence and that each and every student, his/her parents or guardians, and all staff members can feel safe in Hayward schools.
Our goal is to create and maintain a safe, secure, and welcoming school climate, free of drugs, violence, intimidation, and fear, and one that promotes the success and development of all children. We continue to make positive progress in this direction and we are on a fast track toward achieving our goal.
Your child's safety is our top priority.
Dale W. Vigil, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Hayward Unified School District