February 15, 2018 - En Español
Dear Ojai Unified Community,
It is with great sadness I write this letter following yesterday’s horrific events in Florida. Our hearts, prayers and deepest sympathies go out to the parents and families who lost children and loved ones in this tragedy and to the entire Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School community.
While we are all still processing yesterday’s events, I want to take the opportunity, as your superintendent and as a father of two young children, to share some thoughts and provide you information on how, together, we can do all we can to keep our schools safe.
Our students' safety is our first priority. We know you entrust your children to us daily and we take this responsibility very seriously. Along with fire and earthquake drills, we also conduct lockdown drills to prepare for a threat on campus. In the coming days, our district administration team will be reviewing these procedures once again in order to make sure we are as prepared as possible. On February 27th, district administration will receive training from Ojai Chief of Police James Fryhoff to review our threat assessment team and procedures for each site. At our March 13th School Board Meeting, we will review each school safety plan.
From a facilities perspective, your Measure J dollars are being utilized to help further secure our campuses. This past summer, we installed a public address system in each classroom at Nordhoff, which allows for better site-wide communication in the event of an emergency. Additionally, we will be installing new window coverings district-wide beginning this summer, which can obscure visibility into classrooms if there is a threat. Currently, all classrooms are capable of being locked from the inside, typically through the use of “Lock Blocks.”
Prevention is also extremely important. Staff, students and families must work together and remain vigilant to school visitors or behavior that is out of the ordinary. “If you see something, say something” holds true for ensuring the safety and well-being of our students. Through a partnership with HELP of Ojai, we have outstanding ongoing mental health services available at all school sites. We are very fortunate to have an excellent relationship with the Ojai Police. Officers are often on campus, and their response time when called is extremely prompt.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to your principal or to me.
We, the Ojai Unified School District Board Members, send an emphatic THANK YOU to the Ojai community for the extraordinary kindness, generosity and integrity displayed during the recent turmoil. District staff, particularly maintenance and support staff, worked long hours, sometimes into the early morning, to assure our facilities were protected and kept clean, especially when Nordhoff High School operated as an evacuation center. Parents, students, and others donated toys, money, and gift cards to those in need and the efforts continue. Perhaps no institution in Ojai touches as many diverse areas of our community as the School District. We are proud that our community spirit will be a lesson to our students for years to come.