Update, Monday night: This from Director Smith-Blum:
I am forwarding Dr. Enfield's letter addressing the safety concerns with our schools and our coordination with the Seattle Police – both last week and how we will address going forward. I will say that our operations staff indicated to me they felt at least in West Seattle – things were not handled through a central voice and that led to confusion.
I appreciate all your questions and ideas and would ask that if you feel Dr. Enfield's letter does not address your specific concerns or would like more detail, that you send those inquiries to her directly, as it is not the Board's purview to direct staff to change their protocals.
That said, we will be addressing several policies in our areas of safety and student responsibilities this month. I will use your questions and concerns to hopefully create a thought process that will drive a stronger set of policies and procedures for the future.
Director, District 5
I am confused.
The district sent out a statement about notifications after the shootings last week. This is a serious issue as the killer migrated from one area/region of the district to another. Schools in each region did different things. And, as it turns out, some of them did things on their own because they were not able to get clear direction from the district.
I was told by the district that they did rely on the media to get information out to parents (us included). I deliberately did NOT call the district because I didn't want to overload them and I made an assumption about what they were doing. I assumed I would find some basic information at the website.
They did not have anything - not a word - on the SPS website until after 2 p.m.
If they don't want parents calling or going to their child's school, then they need to have information available (and not just via Twitter). I was told the message also came onto the "hosted school websites" but Roosevelt, in the thick of things, also had no message most of the day and into the afternoon.
In specific to this incident, here is what the district says:
You also asked about who makes the decisions on
lockdowns/shelter in place. On Wednesday, we followed the direction of
the Seattle Police Department in securing
our schools. As a precautionary measure, some principals also
voluntarily locked their school buildings (Lafayette and Bryant).
I had assumed all the schools involved sent out a robo-call but
apparently that was not the case. I am not a security expert but the
minute the killer had left one area, I would have thought that every
school in the area where he was next reported, would have sent out a
I was also made aware that one school in West Seattle let kids
out at dismissal time, as the search was on-going, and one did not.
I have to say it sounds like schools were making decisions on their own and that's never a good idea. The decisions should come from the district and SPD. But, in the end if there is a void of information/direction, principals must act on their own to do what is in the best interests for the safety of students and staff.
The journalists over at the West Seattle Blog have done a fantastic job and guess what? Scooped all the other journalists in Seattle by tracking the killer's whereabouts in West Seattle. Their work shows a man on the move and it's frightening. Here is the link to that information.
- he stopped at a nursery, bought a plant for a present and left it on someone's doorstep. The nursery was the West Seattle nursery. This was before his photo was distributed by police.
- Police apparently first spotted him at Fauntleroy and Raymond – roughly
half a mile from the nursery – according to this audio clip they released.
I assumed that the schools around the area in Roosevelt - Roosevelt High, Bryant, Green Lake, Wedgwood and Eckstein - had all been told what to do by the district. I made that same assumption for those in West Seattle (which I had a harder time tracking but I believe included West Seattle Elementary and High Point).
Here's what the West Seattle principal, Vicki Saccim had to say to the WS Blog (and I applaud her candor):
I just want to inform you of the steps we took at West Seattle
Elementary during the crisis the other day. Upon learning there was a
problem from parents calling the school, I made several calls to the
police department to no avail. Taking matters into my own hands and to
ensure everyone’s safety, I made the decision to put the building into a
Shelter in Place. This required locking all doors and keeping students
in the building. A letter went home with students (Thursday) informing
parents of our actions. … I would like the West Seattle community wants
to know that we make safety our top priority.
I assumed all the schools involved sent out a robo-call but apparently that was not the case. I am not a security expert but the minute the killer had left one area, I would have thought that every school in the area where he was next reported, would have sent out a robo-call.
I was also made aware that one school in West Seattle let kids out, as the search was on-going, and one did not.
Here's the Superintendent's statement (partial):
When you entrust us with your child’s education, we know you are also
trusting that they will be safe at school.
We work with the City of Seattle and the Seattle Police Department on an
ongoing basis to ensure our school buildings are a safe place for our
students to learn and for our instructors to teach. When an incident
occurs near one of our schools we are in constant contact with the
police department to determine if a school building should be secured.
On Wednesday, we followed the direction of the Seattle Police Department
in securing our schools. As a precautionary measure, some principals
also voluntarily locked their school buildings.
I am proud of our principals and school staffs for working quickly with
District Safety and Security personnel as well as the Seattle Police
Department to make sure schools were secured. I am also proud of our
students for remaining calm. While many students were not aware of
Wednesday’s events as they unfolded, I do know that for some of our
students and families these last few weeks have been stressful. I
encourage you and your students to talk to the staff at your school if
you are concerned or if you have questions about your school’s specific
Finally, while I hope we never face another situation involving the
security of multiple schools, I want to assure families that we will
communicate information as quickly and accurately as possible in times
of uncertainty. We recognize that some families were unable to get
information quickly on Wednesday, and I know that is frustrating. During
times of crisis, we will continue to provide accurate updates to the
media, and you can also find more information online at www.seattleschools.org; via
Twitter @seapubschools or by calling customer service at 206-252-0010.
I think this incident needs to be reviewed by district Safety and Security and I am going to ask Pegi McEvoy, head of Operations, if that will happen (or does that happen after every kind of incident to make sure procedures are followed).