April 10, 2014
Dear OUSD Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers,
As the Superintendent of Oakland schools, it is my responsibility to make sure our children are educated in safe and caring schools. So, it is with deep regret that I inform you that over the past two months, our students have been exposed to strangers coming on our school campuses to assault innocent students. This has happened at three different elementary schools during the afterschool hours. Our staff has done an amazing job of following the right steps when they have found out about these crimes, but this has produced understandable fear, frustration, and anger among our parents, staff, and students.
We want to keep our schools open for families and we want to keep them safe for our children, and sometimes there are disagreements on how to increase safety and security at our schools while maintaining a welcoming place for our families. While we have met with the Oakland Police Department, and we have deployed our school police and security people to provide additional security, combatting crime requires a community approach, where staff, students, parents, caregivers, neighbors, and law enforcement work together.
We have held community meetings at every school where the crime has occurred so that parents can get information from the local police, and from our school staff. At each school where the crime has occurred, we have reviewed our school facility to see if we can make it safer; we have added additional patrols in our targeted schools; we have held assemblies to remind our children to watch out for each other; we have reminded every school staff to be vigilant and alert for strangers at our schools. But we know that these incidents can happen anywhere. We are asking every school community, especially parents and school staffs, to work together to keep their schools extra safe.
What Parents Can Do
• Drop-off and pick-up students according to the regular school schedule
• Sign in and out when visiting school campuses (Board Policy 1250)
• Inform site staff when you are unable to pick-up within the regular school day
• Update school emergency card information, contacts, and phone numbers
• Serve on the school safety committee or on “parent patrols”
• Make a safety plan for after-school pick-up, walking to and from school, and even out-of-school time.
• Practice safety procedures with your children and discuss “stranger danger” with children.
School Site Responsibilities
• Implement 2013-14 Comprehensive Safety plans and review them regularly with staff.
• Follow administrative regulations and board policies regarding safety (Board Policies 1250 Visitors, 0450 Comprehensive Safety Plan, 5142 Student Safety and 3515.2 Disruptions).
• Form a school safety and climate committee that will review safety protocols with staff, certified volunteers, after-school providers, and families at the site.
• Post clear protocols for parents and students to follow when picking up students after the regular school day ends.
• Follow documented before-and-after school supervision schedules.
• Create a documented schedule for opening and locking gates.
• Review the document Most Common Safety Issues/Protocols for School Site Leaders
• Host “Stranger Danger” assemblies and role-plays to empower students to exit from an unsafe situation
• Require all guests, including parents, District staff, and volunteers to sign-in at the front office, and wear nametags when on campus. Post this policy prominently on-site.
• Hold stranger danger assemblies and create a buddy system for students who are utilizing open areas of the campus (e.g. going to restroom, office etc.) annually at every elementary school
• Alert Oakland School Police of suspicious activity (510.874.7777 or 911)
Central Office Supports
• Conduct an assessment of all school campuses and advise how the building and grounds can be optimized for student safety.
• Increase Oakland Police patrolling around our school sites
• Follow the Board Policies of our governing board with regard to school safety (e.g. BP 3515.5)
• Review updated protocols and upload them to the new intranet.
• Empower OUSD Safety Team to promote and assist in replicating successful practices that have been successful at sites throughout OUSD or at peer school districts.
• Educate staff, students, and families on safety and prevention strategies.
• Increase collaboration with law enforcement and neighborhood organizations focused on safety.
• Provide counseling and to facilitate community meetings for safety issues or crisis situations.
• Share descriptions of sex offenders profiled and at-large when appropriate
We are deeply committed to prevention, education, intervention, and swift action for the safety and well being of our students.
Dr. Gary Yee, Ed.D.