By Jennifer Jimenez
School safety is something the Dysart Unified School District is continuously working on to make certain they advocate for safety in their schools, while understanding they are only able to control what they can control, according to district officials.
During the Feb. 21 Governing Board meeting, Dysart Superintendent Dr. Gail Pletnick said they take the stance of constantly reviewing plans and drilling, not sitting back and waiting for something to happen.
“We have to ensure our plans are not only articulated but can be implemented and those responsible understand their roles,” Ms. Pletnick said. “We are most proud of our partnerships with cities, local police and fire and making certain we know what’s happening in our buildings. We meet with public information officers and security guards to make sure our whole team is working together.”
After 119 days, there have been 241 school drills, 220 threat assessments, 875 safe reports (a new online reporting form) and 290 bullying, harassment or intimidation reports in the first semester. Dysart Safe is a district campaign that gives parents, students and community members access to resources and information on how the district handles various safety concerns.
Board member Dr. Spencer Bailey said he believes giving people easier access to Dysart Safe online would be beneficial.
Board member Jennifer Tanner questioned whether the district has active shooter drills. Ms. Pletnick explained the district also conducts intruder drills.
The city of Surprise used a DUSD campus last year to conduct an active shooter drill, but asked the district not to be involved. They got a feel for the building and working collaboratively with the school. The agencies provide feedback
on various safety issues, such as the parking lot, and the district continues to reach out the them.
Board Clerk Christine A.K. Pritchard asked if there was opportunity to increase lockdown drills, which currently happen once per quarter.
“Certainly, we can always look to do more than what is required,” Ms. Pletnick answered. “We take everything seriously and sometimes to the point where we are investigating those and deal with rumors for being overly cautious. We want information out in advance and we understand in a time like this we know how emotionally draining this is whether it happens in our backyard or in Florida and we are going to do everything we can to be communicating and the board suggestions are excellent.”
Ms. Pletnick said she can advocate, but until the community determines the district needs to do more, it’s an issue they cannot control.
Shadow Ridge High School and Surprise Police Sgt. Wendy Klarkowski provided some insight into a day of a student resource officer. She said every day is different and dictated by what’s going on at the school. She spends evenings going over social media, so she knows what’s going on, she added.
“I speak to kids before classes start and even today kids were waiting to speak to me. I go into classrooms and address situations as they arise,” Ms. Klarkowski said. “I care about our kids deeply and go there every day to make sure they are safe and I am there as a resource.”
Ms. Pletnick said district administrators, teachers and SROs work on their relationships with students to ensure information flows and that they trust the adults they interact with.
For more information on the safety plan for the district, visit www.dysart.org.