Seattle Schools unveils new safety plan to decrease gun violence
Jun 7, 2023, 12:32 PM | Updated: 1:32 pm
(Photo from Kate Stone/KIRO Newsradio)
Seattle Public Schools (SPS) Superintendent Brent Jones, Ph.D., announced to families of students Wednesday some of the security improvements made since an Ingraham High School student was fatally shot on campus last fall.
In a letter to families this week, Jones outlined SPS’s three-part safety initiative on how they are working to decrease gun violence in schools and address the “public safety and mental health issue that affects all of us. ”
These initiatives include:
- Conducting a safety review of SPS campuses
- Inviting safety leaders to the table to create community action teams
- Establishing a council comprised of mental health and wellness leaders from our community
“While I am proud of the progress made since launching our safety initiative last fall, I acknowledge this update took more time than anticipated,” Jones said in his letter. “Rebounding from tragedy and ensuring the safety of our school community is not easy. We have too much at stake to not be diligent in this work.”
Jones said the district is updating building locks, increasing emergency training for staff, improving communication systems, and reviewing recommendations to upgrade security cameras.
Soon after the shooting, Make Gallitelli, an Ingraham parent, formed a parent’s group focusing on safety issues at Ingraham. They sent a letter last February, asking the principal for the school’s safety plan and for better communication.
And she understands the lingering concerns about safety.
“I have that same feeling until I hear from the district,” Gallitelli said back in April. “As I feel right now, as I speak, as of today, I feel we have been heard at least a little bit.”
Along with these safety improvements, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced a new youth mental health initiative called “Reach Out Seattle.”
“The world our young people are growing up in today is very different than when I attended school in Seattle,” Harrell said. “As the threat and incidence of gun violence continues to increase nationwide, we know that too often the lasting scars on our young people aren’t only physical. Our youth deserve safe, supportive environments to learn, grow, and reach adulthood.”
It focuses on prevention, early identification, and intervention so community members are better equipped to recognize youth in distress.
They are also running an awareness campaign to destigmatize the conversation around mental health.