Dear APS Families,
I have been reflecting on our communication following recent incidents and working with our staff on ways we can ensure it is as informative and reassuring as possible. We will be making changes moving forward.
Our goal is to inform families about what is happening at school as quickly as we can, and ensure they have accurate information about what is happening at school, including the steps being taken to protect the health and safety of students. If there is a police presence at school, or any threat to safety, we will alert the school community affected as soon as possible. Moving forward, all messages regarding school safety will include the nature of the threat in as much detail as we are able. In evaluating some of the recent communications, there were instances that did not include this information, so we need to ensure this happens consistently.
There are three instances when we cannot share detailed information:
- In a medical emergency, we notify families that there is an ambulance at the school due to a medical emergency, to provide reassurance that there is not a broader threat. We cannot share any further information with the school community as part of our legal obligation to maintain student’s private medical information.
- When a school receives a threat of violence under active police investigation, we work closely with ACPD to ensure we do not jeopardize their investigation by releasing confidential or inaccurate information ahead of the police report. Once the investigation is complete and the report has been posted, we share it with our families.
- Regarding student discipline, our goal is to assure families that appropriate disciplinary action has been taken to prevent further harm or danger. In most cases, we cannot provide specific information about disciplinary action related to individuals involved in making threats or other unsafe behaviors, due to student privacy.
We will continue to reflect and debrief after each incident to provide as much clarity as possible. I appreciate your feedback and partnership, as well as your vigilance and shared commitment to safety.
Other Updates and Reminders:
- WIDA Testing for English Language Learners: Students who are eligible for English Learner services are taking the annual WIDA ACCESS English language proficiency assessment from Jan. 17-Mar 17. This is used to monitor student progress and shape instruction that meets the strengths and needs of every student. The results also determine if a student has reached English proficiency, or if they are eligible for testing accommodations on standardized tests. Families will be notified of the results after testing is complete. Learn more
- Thanking APS School Counselors: Our school counselors continue to play a vital role in the success and wellbeing of our students. I encourage everyone to thank your school’s counseling team this week, in honor of School Counseling Week. We are fortunate to have 127 talented professional counselors helping students grow and thrive.
- Appreciating APS Crossing Guards: This week is also Crossing Guard Appreciation Week, so remember to thank them for keeping students safe on their way to and from school.
I want to again thank our APS community for working together when threats or other situations arise.
Thank you for your partnership!
Dr. Francisco Durán
Arlington Public Schools