Statement from MASA on the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2018:

The school shooting that happened in Florida is every superintendent’s, every educator’s and every parent’s worst nightmare. Perhaps even more so, it is a nightmare for our students, who have seen and heard the events that occurred in Parkland over and over again on the news in graphic detail from live video captured on the scene by students.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends and colleagues of those who lost their lives yesterday, as well as with our young students who are struggling to make sense of this violent and heinous act.

As we all fully know, there is no place for violence of any kind in our schools. Michigan’s superintendents and their staff members are committed to continuing to create safe and secure learning environments for our students, but in spite of our absolute best efforts we are also painfully aware that the worst can happen in any given town, in any given school, on any given day. I am confident that we will all keep working together to take whatever steps we can and must to decrease the likelihood of a horrific attack.

MASA fully supports the letter from the 13 superintendents of the Muskegon Area ISD that was put together in a collaborative manner, and we echo the call for schools to continue to be prepared through proper training and for communities to remain vigilant. Working together, we can and will continue to keep our students as safe as humanly possible from harm.

Letter from Muskegon Area Public Schools Superintendents Association

February 15, 2018 

Dear Students, Parents, Staff and Community Members:

 As news of the latest school shooting floods the media, we again see the faces of children, parents, and school staff shocked by another school tragedy. This time we see terrified children and hear gun shots as teens capture the event live on social media. We cannot accept these tragedies as a normal part of life in America.

As Superintendents of the public schools in the Muskegon Area, we believe it is important for you to know we are diligently working to prevent school shootings and other types of violence in our schools. Over the past few years, our schools have participated in multiple trainings and built strong and supportive relationships with law enforcement and other first responders. They have advised us on how to better secure our schools in a variety of ways using countywide technology and security millage funding. For example, across the county we have limited access to buildings to single, secured entries; added security cameras; and modified windows and exterior doors to be impact resistant. We know that students learn best in safe and secure environments.

We cannot keep our schools safe without the help and support of our entire community. We urge you to learn about the warning signs connected with school shooters in the United States. They include violent fantasies, anger problems, fascination with weapons, being a loner, suicidal or homicidal ideation, stalking, interest in previous shootings, paranoia, violence and cruelty, acting out, police contact, mental health issues, use of alcohol and drugs, and unusual interest in police, military, and terrorist activities. Experts say a single warning sign by itself might not be significant, but a cluster of warning signs is much more serious.

Please make sure your child knows they must tell a trusted adult immediately if they feel their school is threatened in any way. This includes sharing information about weapons or threatening acts of violence in person or online.

Finally, we need your support in helping our children cope with the painful feelings that may be triggered by yesterday’s tragedy in Florida. The National Association of School Psychologists has provided tips for parents. Help your child express their feelings by making the time to ask them questions, listen, and then help them process by pointing out safeguards and what to do during an emergency.

Across Muskegon County, please know that we stand united as a community against all acts of violence.

We are stronger and safer when we work together as students, parents, staff, and community members.

Sincerely,

Muskegon Area Public Schools Superintendents Association