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Keeping our schools safe

2013 June 19

No matter how high the quality of instruction is in any given classroom, if children don’t feel safe enough to focus on what’s being taught there, they are not going to learn the material as well as they should.

“Safety Above All Else” has long been HISD’s top core value. That’s why the theme of this year’s Summer Leadership Institute is how “Becoming Great All Over” is connected to rigorous and consistent instruction and school safety.

At this annual event, principals, assistant principals, deans, and other members of Team HISD who serve in leadership roles get to hear from respected national experts in the field of education. They also discover new strategies for creating friendly, positive learning environments at their campuses in which both students and staff members feel safe and fully supported.

HISD is committed to keeping its facilities secure. That’s why we have our own, fully certified police force, and about 175 police officers patrolling our campuses. In addition, we have more than 12,000 security cameras in place at facilities across the district, and more than $17 million from the 2012 bond program has been earmarked for security, including fencing and other access controls. We also have a group of field safety officers who make unannounced campus visits throughout the year to test schools’ adherence to established safety procedures.

In addition, the Board of Education strengthened HISD’s existing bullying policy in 2011 and many of our schools have campus-based anti-bullying programs in place. About three dozen of our schools have also completed the Anti-Defamation League’s requirements to become “No Place for Hate” campuses.

Clearly, our efforts are working, as crime statistics continue to drop. During the 2012–2013 school year, HISD campuses reported 3,131 crimes, compared with 4,242 the previous year and 5,135 the year before that.

We still have work to do so that every child in Houston feels safe and secure every day they spend in our classrooms. I am confident that we can make this happen as we continue pulling together as a community for our children’s sake.

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