February 5, 2019
Good Afternoon Pottstown Parents and Community Partners,
As a school district, we are committed to creating and sustaining a comprehensive, coordinated effort to improve the overall safety and well-being of our students and staff.
To date, part of our plan has included:
- Full time School Resource Officer for the district, housed at PHS
- Coordinated security presence with a private firm for during and after school activities, as well as coordination with the Pottstown Police Department.
- Annually planned drills including Armed Violent Intruder Drills
- Facilities Planning: Secure vestibules being installed in all schools
- Security Cameras both inside and outside school buildings
- Professional development on safety, de-escalation techniques and mental health warning signs.
- Safety line (610.970.6705) for any public tips
- Relationship based classroom instruction, specifically Social Emotional Learning programs that we instituted even before it was highly recommended by security authority structures in the state.
- Strong communication networks, including social media and other technology based tools
- Grant applications for visitor systems capable of simple background checks, and other security related technology items.
We believe we must involve community-wide programs and initiatives involving parents, teachers, administrators, local law enforcement, mental health & wellness professionals and elected officials to continue meaningful security practices that will protect our students and staff.
Last fall, legislation (Act 44) passed to offer a “tip-line,” much like our safety line, which will provide a state-wide outlet to report potential school violence perpetrators. We encourage you to watch this short video as a reminder of why the legislature enacted Act 44, and directed the Office of Attorney General to establish this program. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8syQeFtBKc
Pottstown School District is happy to participate in the launch of the “Safe2Say Something” (S2SS) anonymous reporting system. This program, which is mandated under PA state law/Act 44, teaches students, teachers, and administrators how to recognize warning signs and signals, especially within social media, of individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others and say something to a trusted adult OR use its anonymous reporting system. Specifically, the program educates participants to:
- Recognize the signs and signals of at-risk behaviors – especially within social media
- Take every sign and signal seriously; act quickly to get help by talking to a trusted adult
- Report it anonymously through the S2SS Office of the Attorney General 24/7 Crisis Center, mobile app, or website
- Respond to and manage the submitted tip via a school-based multi-disciplinary educator and administrator teams
- Sustain the curriculum and awareness via student clubs, in-school activities and call-to-action weeks
Our students often are aware of the problems their peers are facing, so we must empower them to know the danger signs and give them the tools to help each other with the assistance of trained and caring adults. As you know, most conversations are taking place on social media, therefore it is critical that we teach our students to be looking out for one another as these digital conversations are taking place. S2SS teaches them what to look for in text, video and photos while empowering them to act quickly to help a fellow student.
You can click on this link https://tinyurl.com/s2ssBrochure for a full brochure outlining the S2SS program.
The S2SS program is being provided through Sandy Hook Promise (SHP), a nationwide non-profit organization. SHP’s programs are in 50 states – with 10,000+ schools and over 5.5 million students and adults trained. They have a track record, reputation, and knowledge of how to work effectively with children, parents, and teachers to improve school safety and culture. The program is age-appropriate and research-based. They also have funding to provide and sustain the program at NO COST to all schools statewide, including Pottstown schools.
We hope that S2SS and/or our own tip line will help stop school shootings, suicides, and gun threats; we hope it will help reduce bullying and cyber-bullying, and help intervene in situations involving cutting, drug use, racial conflicts, and other violent and victimization acts.
If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call or email your school directly. Please see the next page for discussion points with your child, no matter their age.
Stephen J. Rodriguez
Superintendent of Schools
Important Ideas and Discussions to Have with Your Child
- Don’t stop reporting concerns directly to teachers/administrators if they are comfortable doing so. The District will continue to encourage this, as well.
- This may be the fastest way to address certain circumstances.
- In extreme emergencies- call 911. You can always follow-up with a tip.
Students are always able to follow-up with a tip to make sure the
concern has been registered with the school,
but in certain cases time is of the essence and 911 should be called. False tips can be charged as a crime. Only use the system for real concerns to avoid criminal action.
This system is a very powerful tool in keeping students safe. Abusing the system only creates unnecessary time away from real concerns.