Arlington Superintendent Kathleen Bodie made the following statement Monday on last week’s incident at the Stratton School.
Today, I had two very productive meetings and dialog sessions with Stratton School parents, faculty and staff that were focused on the events of last week, in which a school parent was ordered not to return to school grounds after displaying a gun permit during an argument with Principal Hanna at an after-school meeting on June 4.
Last week's incident and the dialog we have had with parents have brought two very important issues to the forefront: First, we always need to make sure we are doing everything we can to keep our children safe. Second, we need to ensure proper communication between the schools and parents.
In reviewing this incident and other incidents that have taken place in our schools, we firmly believe that our children are safe in the Arlington Public Schools. However, if we do not properly communicate, even once, with our school parents, they will not feel safe, regardless of our physical security measures.
With that in mind, I have ordered a thorough review and revamp of Arlington Public Schools incident notification procedures and protocols.
We have an emergency communications system in place in the event of a major emergency, but we need to remove the gray area when it comes to notifying the community about events that happen after school or that do not involve direct threats and violence, as well as events that require police involvement.
These procedures will be updated immediately, and a formal program will be up and running before the start of the next school year.
We will also review our chain of command procedures to ensure that there is no break in continuity of communication if a school leader or school system administrator is away. This incident occurred while I was out of state for a family function, but that should be no excuse for a lack of proper communication. We will develop a black-and-white set of rules and a culture of “when in doubt, notify” when it comes to communication.
We will also continue to discuss with our teachers and parents ways to talk to their children about what happened last Wednesday, so that our children feel safe and secure at school as well.
I will continue to meet and discuss this situation with our parents, faculty, and staff. I will also schedule an evening forum for working parents to bring their concerns and questions to school system administration directly.
I thank you for your work and your continued support of the children of Arlington.