Dear DuPage County Educators,
As we move into the final months of the 2017 – 2018 school year, I want to assure you that school safety continues to be at the forefront of our work at the DuPage Regional Office of Education. Under the direction of the ROE, a safety task force was established in 1999 as a part of the DuPage Health Life Safety Committee which separated and became the DuPage County School Safety Task Force two years later.  The group, consisting of school personnel which includes superintendents, principals, buildings and grounds staff members has met one to three times a year based on recommendations with directors from offices of emergency management, the DuPage Sheriff’s Department and local law enforcement officials. 
In order to gather information on current safety concerns, my office held multiple focus groups in March to discuss school safety and address protocol that will ensure our educators and our students have a safe place to work and learn.
Stakeholders at the table included school administrators, teachers, deans, counselors, student resource officers, parents and students. Overall, the participants felt that safety and security was a top priority in their districts and that proper precautions were in place. We dug deep and shared what is currently working and what can be improved upon. A key recommendation was the need for more safety practice drills throughout the school year. 
Also based on recommendations, the DuPage County School Safety Task Force   will address the need for common language used during a crisis situation as well as providing information on best practices in safety protocols. 
The resounding thread that came out of these rich discussions was the importance of Social and Emotional Learning and the mental health needs of our students. The DuPage ROE is partnering with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and will continue to address this with additional professional development and support services for our DuPage County educators.
All my best, 
Darlene Ruscitti