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Culver City Unified School District Superintendent on Connecticut School Shootings

CCUSD Superintendent Dave LaRose sent a letter to the district's families saying, "there are no answers, only deep sorrow and heavy hearts." He also laid out CCUSD's safety practices in all its schools.

There's only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have for our children, for our families, for each other. The warmth of a small child's embrace, that is true.

The memories we have of them, the joy that they bring, the wonder we see through their eyes, that fierce and boundless love we feel for them, a love that takes us out of ourselves and binds us to something larger, we know that's what matters.

We know we're always doing right when we're taking care of them, when we're teaching them well, when we're showing acts of kindness. We don't go wrong when we do that.

- President Obama

Dear Culver City Families,

An unimaginable act on our most innocent has brought us together in overwhelming grief. There are no answers, only deep sorrow and heavy hearts. Through our own grief and worry, we struggle to comprehend the depth of anguish the entire town of Newtown, CT must be experiencing. Our greatest, most common bond is our love, advocacy and sacrifice for children - not only our own, but all children. Words will never fully capture how deeply we hurt for the victims and their loved ones. We pray in earnest for their healing to begin, as parents, families, as a school and as a community.

Understandably, we have received many questions from parents and community members, all seeking strength and assurances as their confidence has been shaken. As we shared on Friday, our immediate response has been to offer our most sincere thoughts and prayers for the many victims, while also sharing tips and strategies for discussing the tragic event with our children. The focus of this message is to address some common questions regarding our emergency preparedness, with the goal of affirming your confidence and trust in our commitment to school safety.

We are systemic and intentional about our safety practices in CCUSD:

  • All sites have Emergency Plans (updated this year)
  • We have Emergency Preparedness Drills (Earthquake, Fire and Lock Down) on a monthly basis at all of our schools.
  • We are fortunate to have a well-trained, highly visible Security Department and Security Supervisor for prevention and timely intervention.
  • We have a very involved relationship with our Culver City Police Department, including a full-time School Resource Officer.
  • All schools have structure check-in, check-out procedures in their offices - ID checks, sign-in procedures, etc.
  • We have comprehensive video surveillance at our Middle School and High School and are moving forward will plan to add cameras to our Elementary School Offices
  • All schools have structured drop off and pick up times - designed to ensure students are supervised and safe when on campus
  • All schools have radio communication with and between key school staff
  • We continue, as always, to evaluate our security systems, policies and protocols to make sure our students and staff are safe at all times.

Additional Efforts in Response to the Tragedy in Newtown, CT

Increased visibility -we have communicated our goal for increased visibility by administration and security to instill confidence and comfort in our students. We will also have increased Culver City Police presence at our school sites this week.

We have qualified staff, counselors and behavior specialist to support you and your child if needed.
School Specific Efforts: Our schools are responding as a team, preparing staff to engage students and families with concerns, practicing drills, evaluating current plans, communication resources, etc. All schools will be communicating with families regarding the efforts unique to their site.

Communicating Opportunities to Help Sandy Hook Elementary School: We have reached out to the Newtown school system to share our condolences and offered our desire to help them as they move forward. They have developed a centralized site through the United Way for those interested in donating. the website is: https://newtown.uwwesternct.org/

Additional Resource Links to Assist Us in Talking to Our Children:
http://www.nasponline.org/resources/handouts/talkingviolence.pdf

http://www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/talkingviolence_spanish.pdf

http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ss/cp/tragedy.asp

Please continue to ask questions, make recommendations and share observations as we attempt to learn and grow from this horrific event. Thank you for sharing your wonderful children with us; we are privileged to partner with you in their healthy, happy growth and development.

Sincerely,

Dave LaRose

CCUSD Superintendent

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