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Madison Metropolitan School District

May 26, 2022 Meeting Recap

At the last committee meeting on April 12, 2022, the committee agreed to build on their exploration of their guiding questions (what is your vision for student safety and wellness, and what would you like MMSD to do differently or more) as they prepare to eventually make formal recommendations to the Board of Education.  

However, with the Uvalde, Texas school shooting massacre occurring just two days before this meeting, members paused to take time to process and reflect on their feelings about the tragedy and how the incident is impacting their feelings about school safety. 

They also discussed the protocols for when and how school administration, in partnership with the district, communicates with staff, families, and students about a school safety incident. The Standard Response Protocol Term "Lockout" was discussed, given its closeness to the term "Lockdown," as well as the rationale behind the type and frequency of various safety drills throughout the school year. 

Uvalde, Texas reflections: 

Members reported feeling a range of emotions – heartbreak, fear, anger, disappointment, and frustration, but also hope. 

Specifically:

- One student was feeling more fearful in light of the string of unsubstantiated phone call threats Memorial High School has received this spring. 
- Some expressed anger at politicians. Others expressed that this is not just a crisis of legislation, but part of a larger public health crisis. 
- There was frustration at the national conversation to "arm teachers," given the feeling that teachers sometimes aren't even trusted with books or certain topics. 
- Some pointed out that there is a lot of hope for good in our community, that we can have conversations about this while balancing it with hope and the opportunity for our young people to do things differently. 
- There was a desire to not continue to normalize the culture of gun violence, to not turn the channel, but rather to turn up the volume. 
- The fact that many of our students have been personally impacted by gun violence was brought up, and that we need to wrap around them. 
- Mental health resources were brought up again, and the importance of sharing them. 

Discussion about committee scope: 

- Members echoed the importance of the scope of the committee's work including all grades, from 4K on up, and the opportunity to work with Student Services staff in schools and PTOs. 
- One member sought clarification of where "wellness" fits in in the work. 
- Members discussed an opportunity gap in terms of not having equitable access to resources for coping with struggles, and thought this could result in disproportionate behavior incidents. 

Discussion of how schools notify staff, families, and students of safety incidents: 

- Students expressed frustration at how schools would notify them and their families of a safety incident occurring at their school, referencing a recent incident involving a weapon on campus at La Follette High School. They felt like they were being left in the dark, and concerned that their families were learning things on social media before hearing from the school. 
- Some staff pointed out that administrators work with Central Office staff in communicating these incidents, and offered that there are often confidentiality issues involved, and that there is a need to understand the full, accurate picture rather than communicating unconfirmed information, which could lead to increased anxiety and false rumors about individuals or incidents. 
- Someone offered whether the committee would seek to examine the process for how schools send out emergency communication with district administrators or at least to highlight some of the observations that were shared with the superintendent. 
- A student pointed out the similarity in the terms "Lockout" and "Lockdown," and the representation from Communications said that the Standard Response Protocol has since changed "Lockout" to "Secure," but that we have not yet made that change. 
- A student wanted to know why schools hold more fire drills than they do Lockdown drills. 

Stakeholder groups update:

Before closing out the meeting, there was a desire expressed that stakeholder liaisons could share in the next meeting, which will take place on June 23, 2022, what ways they have connected with their groups and what supports they need in the meantime. 

As well, members said at the next meeting they would like to see what the district's responses have been to any messages coming through Let's Talk related to the ad hoc committee.