District to probe possible changes
Littleton board hears from school safety and violence experts.
littleton» School safety and violence experts appeared before the Littleton school board Thursday night to reiterate calls for change that were made in reports released this week.
Linda Kanan, University of Denver adjunct professor, said “the district has come a long way,” but she and other report authors recommended more than a dozen changes to address failures and gaps that became evident during their investigation of the months leading up to the December 2013 shooting at Arapahoe High School.
Among the recommendations were that the district take more leadership over school safety decisions, that the district collect more data centrally, and that more training be provided to administrators doing threat assessments.
The school board asked the superintendent to review all the recommendations, and report back to the board April 14.
Superintendent Brian Ewert said after the board meeting that one recommendation he does expect to make is to ask the district to set up guidance and oversight for training students and staff on how to report threats, including using the anonymous statewide Safe to Tell program.
He said he will also look at ways to create small group advisory classes to foster better relationships of adults with students.
“It makes a huge difference. That’s a valuable way to approach this,” Ewert said.
Michael Dorn, the executive director of Safe Havens International, cautioned the district against narrowing in too closely on school shooting threats. Schools should also plan for sexual assaults, unsafe buildings or natural disasters, he said.
“There are a number of areas that need to be covered,” Dorn said. “What we don’t want to see is you’ll ignore the other areas, and then you’ll have a different type of tragedy and you’ll go through this all over again.”
Much of Thursday’s discussion focused on the communication strategy the district used after the shooting.
Ewert read from a letter issued this week, defending the district’s communication strategy and blaming the sheriff’s office investigation and a request from the district attorney not to speak about the incident for their decision to keep much information quiet.
Board president Jack Reutzel also defended the strategy, saying many parents appreciated that news coverage of the shooting was not daily.
“It wasn’t typical. We didn’t communicate with the press,” Reutzel said. “We believed we were under very tight orders. We took that very seriously.”
Both said the lack of public communication, especially with the media, did not mean they did not communicate with parents.