Safe Space

Posted on

March 7, 2018

Dear Team Chesterfield Families:

Chesterfield County Public Schools is aware that in response to the recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla., some Chesterfield County students may choose to participate in the “National School Walkout” scheduled for March 14. While we want to be supportive of students and their rights to freedom of expression, we also remain responsible for providing a safe and secure educational environment.

During the past week, principals were asked to work with student leaders to identify safe alternatives to walking out of school on March 14. We received several strong recommendations for supporting our students in a safe, supervised environment.

In an effort to provide equity among schools on March 14, if a walkout does occur, our middle and high schools will set up a safe, supervised location where students can

  • Have a student-led memorial service honoring those who lost their lives in the Florida shooting OR
  • Have a student-led assembly about the importance of school safety

While we are not sharing the locations of these safe spaces for security reasons, these areas will have administrative and staff supervision. We also have asked the local police department for support. School Board Policy 6100-R prohibits employees from engaging in political activities during school time, so staff members will remain in a supervisory role and not participate in the event. Community members, including parents, will not be able to participate in any walkout-related event on school property due to safety concerns.

Building leaders will not administer disciplinary consequences to those students who are genuine in expressing their position, elect to walk out to safe spaces identified by school administration and abide by student behavior expectations. However, these students will be marked as having an unexcused absence from class.

Should students decline to join their peers outside, they can use message boards during breakfast/lunch to share their feelings or share their perspective through essays and/or poetry.

The responsibility for keeping our schools safe belongs to everyone. We ask families and school communities to remain vigilant. If you see something, say something. If you know something, make sure someone else knows, too.

In addition to the school division’s safety plans, we continue to work with our local police department to address any threat to school safety made via social media or other forms of electronic communication. We ask for your assistance in reporting any social media or other threat directly to law enforcement or school officials, understanding that the sharing of rumors or non-credible information on social media platforms creates problems instead of preventing them.

We encourage families to have a discussion with their children about beliefs related to the walkout and to recent national events. Know what websites and social media your child is using for your overall awareness and to stimulate discussion with your children. Our student support services teams have tips and materials available to help navigate these critical conversations. We will continue to make Chesterfield County Public Schools an extension of the core values and beliefs that are taught at home. As a partner in that effort, encourage your child(ren) to tell you or another trusted adult if they become aware of a threat or a rumor of violence.

We look forward to partnering with you in our efforts to create a safe, supportive and nurturing learning environment for our 60,000-plus students. Meeting that expectation is not a responsibility we take lightly. Thank you for partnering with us to keep our children and communities safe.



John Erbach                                                                                  Dr. James F. Lane
School Board Chair                                                                      Superintendent