After a summer of discussion about keeping students safe in local schools, one district hopes its plan to keep parents involved catches on.
On Saturday, the Dickinson Independent School District held the first of what officials say will be multiple “Safety Saturday” events.
The event at McAdams Junior High School featured experts talking about active shooters, cyber security and family communication.
The point of the event was to get school safety information into the hands of parents, Dickinson ISD Superintendent Carla Voelkel said.
“Our purpose is to help them be more aware and calm fears,” she said. “We’re just trying to do what we can.”
The event was planned amid a surge in interest in school safety this summer, not only in Dickinson, but in school districts across the county and state after a May 18 shooting at Santa Fe High School killed 10 people.
Dickinson, like other school districts, started a school safety committee, a group made up of parents, administrators and teachers, to discuss and recommend ways to improve campus security.
Before the school year began, Dickinson ISD released a 41-item list detailing things it did to protect students. The list included new improvements, such as hiring five student resource officers through the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office, as well as steps the district already had in place before May 18, such as security cameras, school counselors and partnerships will local health groups.
Saturday’s event is part of an effort by the school district to build relationships in the community, Voelkel said.
Despite being advertised for months, Saturday’s event drew about 50 people, including organizers and members of the school safety committee.
The district would hold similar events on topics such as bullying and suicide, Voelkel said. She hoped more people would come to the events as they become more regular.
“We’re hoping that word spreads,” she said.
Parents should be more involved in the school district’s safety panning, said Karen Goebel, who attended Saturday’s sessions. Goebel has three children in the Dickinson school district.
Goebel is a member of Dickinson’s safety committee. She said she was motivated to join because of the shooting at Santa Fe.
“That showed us that we are not as closed off as we thought we were,” she said.
She thought the turnout for Saturday’s event was “a bit low.” Keeping other parents involved in safety discussion is the hard part of the process, she said.
“I thought, considering we’ve had a good parent committee, we’d have a bigger turnout,” she said.
There was a surge in parent involvement after the Santa Fe High School shooting.
The Santa Fe district established an official safety and security committee, while groups of parents formed their own ad hoc safety groups to advocate for specific safety methods.
Santa Fe ISD has also allowed parents to be part of a volunteer squad that monitors school hallways and acts as the “eyes and ears of the school,” according to school district.
In Dickinson on Saturday, the district’s keynote speaker said parents and community members needed to make efforts to get involved in order for improvements to work.
“Always be an active participant in your family’s, friends’, neighbors’ and colleagues’ lives,” said Shari Forward, a Friendswood Police Department officer and team coordinator for Galveston County’s Critical Incident Stress Management Team. “Be involved all the time and not just on the heels of a tragedy.”