A message on school safety

A message from the Superintendent on school safety
Posted on 12/10/2021
A message from the Superintendent on school safety

As many of you may have heard, we had an unsettling morning at one of our high schools today. I.C. Norcom was placed on an internal lockdown following reports that a former student was on campus and possibly carrying a weapon. This, of course, was very concerning, especially in light of the recent school violence we have seen across the country. Thankfully, we were able to confirm the student was not on campus and return to normal operations without further incident.

To our Norcom students, staff and families, I am deeply sorry for your experience today. No one should have to be in a position where they feel anxious just by being in school or having a loved one in school. For all our families in the division, we recognize that just hearing about such an incident in your own city can also be very stressful and frightening.

First, let me share that school counselors are always available to meet with students who may be experiencing overwhelming feelings of apprehension or fear. They are ready and able to work with your children and provide them with helpful resources and supports. For our staff, our Employee Assistance Program is available at no cost to help provide support for you as well. Staff and families can reach out to your school administration or visit ppsk12.us/heretohelp for more information.

Secondly, I want to reiterate that the safety of our students and staff members is an essential priority for our division. We are constantly evaluating our practices and protocols to ensure we have the best safety measures and responses in place. We saw the benefit of that effort this morning.

Today, Norcom’s security staff was vigilant and able to identify someone they knew should not be at school. This allowed administration to quickly lock down the building. In doing so, additional law enforcement promptly reported to the school to join security staff and the school resource officers in searching the building. They did a complete room-by-room search of the campus before giving the all-clear. I want to thank our outstanding school security officers for their work every day as well as the Portsmouth Police Department and Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office for their dedicated partnership.

Of course, we know that one of the greatest partnerships we also have is with you, our students and families. Parents, please share with your children how vital they are to keeping our schools safe. If they see something or hear something upsetting, remind them to share their concerns with staff members or police so we can take action.

Together, we are a community, and we are united in our efforts in keeping our schools safe, welcoming and engaging places for all students to learn and grow each day.

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