Dear Parents, Teachers, School Staff, and Concerned Community Members near and far,
This letter is written with a heavy heart given all of the very recent tragedies that have happened in schools all over our country. There have been 18 school shootings since January, 1st, 2018!! The most recent, on 2-14-18 resulting in the deaths of far too many innocent individuals with many others severely injured. Many of these have been in small rural communities where none of the community members would have ever suspected it could have happened. There have also been incidents, since January of 2018, involving critically injuring students with knives that have gone underreported and typically do not make national news. We are now all far beyond being naive enough to think that this could not happen in our community. Durango is far from being immune. Sadly, it only takes one individual to inflict irreparable damage on several. We are currently on the very fortunate end of prevention. We need to make changes to prevent such a horrific tragedy from occuring in our community now. While Increased security and locked doors should be an absolute standard in all schools in our community, currently the most vulnerable sitting duck is the Durango High School. Time is of the essence and change needs to happen as soon as possible.
As we all know, increased security can not be effective without the location being locked at all times. The front doors to Durango High School are currently always open allowing anyone easy access to walk in and out at anytime of the day. This is not about taking away the freedoms of our high school students at all, but rather this about keeping them safe and secure during the school day so they can go to school to learn everyday knowing that their building is safe and kept secure at all times. In order to be fully effective, the campus needs to be closed and the front doors locked at all times. The majority of school campuses around the country, over 92% currently, have adopted this model and there are many security systems to choose from to implement. Students that needed to leave and return to campus to attend college courses at Fort Lewis would still be able to do this, but would simply be checked out and in securely. This is not rocket science, but rather a necessary evil of the times we currently live in.
We have a responsibility, as a community, to do everything we can to prevent a tragedy from happening in our schools. Imagine the cost to our community if something did happen.
The loss in business productivity due to tragic loss would be astronomical adding up to potentially millions of dollars depending on those involved and their roles in the community.
The cost of treating gunshot wounds is the highest of any other injury. This could also potentially add up to millions of dollars, many of which would be taxpayer dollars. There could be millions potentially spent on rehab, recovery, and counseling services. There could also be potentially millions spent on the immediate care and clean up of a tragic event. While these are all items we can put a price tag on, the real loss of life is always beyond priceless. We all know that there is not a parent out there who has lost a child that would not give every dollar and possession they have to gain the life of their child back. If these parents could have been given the opportunity to contribute a small amount of money to help fund locked doors, increased security, and metal detectors at their schools, knowing what they now know, of course they would have done that. We hope to set up an organized donation system in the near future to help to supplement 9R as they move forward with increased security first at Durango High School, then trickling down to our Middle Schools and Elementary Schools. There are many families that are now homeschooling or considering switching to homeschool if something does not change with the level of security available at the 9R schools. The school system will continue to lose many thousands if fewer and fewer students actually attend school. It is also pertinent for the 9R school district to make changes to avoid unrecoverable monetary loss due to the implementation of the Claire Davis Act. Schools no longer have governmental immunity.
After 17-year-old Claire Davis was murdered by a classmate at a Denver-area high school in December 2013, numerous investigations pointed to deficiencies in safety policies at Arapahoe High School. The legislature responded with the Claire Davis Act, passed in 2015, which allows victims to sue districts for liability if they fail to ensure the safety of students and staff on school property or at district-sponsored events. The law took full effect July 1, 2017.
Districts can face penalties of up to $350,000 per victim.
NCES Statistics – Percentage of public schools with various safety and security measures: Selected years, 1999-2000 through 2013-14
As of 2014, in over 92% of schools, students are not permitted to leave school grounds during lunch, why is Durango so behind the times?? Given what is occurring all over our nation!
The following changes need to be implemented as soon as possible:
- Locked front doors at all times with an updated buzz in security system/ID badge system at The Durango High School
- Closed campus at The Durango High School
- Armed School Resource officers present at all schools during all school hours and after school events, increased security guard patrol/presence on the high school campus property, and increased security presence during morning arrival and afternoon departure
- Metal detector implementation at Durango High School
- Implementation of 3M shatterproof glass/film on all main doors and windows in all 9R schools starting with the most currently vulnerable, Durango High School.
- Increased Video Surveillance starting with the most vulnerable, Durango High School
There will be a public forum held on this topic in the next couple of weeks. Please watch the Durango Herald for the date and consider attending to show your support.
IF you would like to speak to the Board of Education at one of their next board meetings being held on March 20th and April 17th, here are the guidelines for public comment to follow.
Please pass this informative letter on to all of those you know that are in support of safer schools.
Thank you for your support and efforts!!!
Parents for Safer Schools