School safety isn’t taken seriously enough

I’m a Seattle teacher: School safety isn’t taken seriously enough

Garfield High School, where I teach, had a school-shooter threat back in February, and it terrified us all.

School shootings have somehow become common and normalized, yet there’s been almost nothing done even after this threat. Not to single out any one school – Seattle’s schools as a group have made almost no change in procedures, training, awareness and other kinds of teaching for students or teachers or administrators or parents. I find it hard to fathom. What will it take for us to respond?

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I’ve written to the Seattle School Board, to now-former Superintendent Larry Nyland, to my principal and to the Director of Schools who oversees my school. Only one of my emails received a reply. A month ago I wrote to the new Superintendent Denise Juneau, and again got no response.

“I want you to know that I and the rest of the School Board take staff and student safety in our schools very seriously. I know that Garfield and all Seattle Public Schools practice safety drills to best prepare everyone in the event of an incident. Is this enough to save lives in a real emergency? Probably not. However, we are following the recommendations of school safety experts and will continue to improve our safety systems.”

The lock-down drill we practice twice a year is clearly not sufficient, and officials acknowledge it openly. We have had zero trainings. When the threat happened, school officials locked all but the main doors for entering and put security at other doors. They told us to keep our blinds closed and our classroom doors locked.

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