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October 4, 2019

TO:             Northwest ISD Parents and Caregivers

FROM:       Ryder Warren, Superintendent of Schools

SUBJECT:  Superintendent’s Update

Many of you are aware that Northwest High School was in a “lockdown” situation today and the nearby campuses (W.R. Hatfield Elementary School, Gene Pike Middle School, Special Programs Center, and NISD Administrative Offices) were in “lockout” mode for roughly two hours. Though this challenge only affected our central campus schools and buildings, I wanted all parents to be debriefed. 

I want to thank our students, staff, and families involved in the lockdown and lockouts while we investigated the perceived threat. I understand that this may have been concerning, but everyone handled it with excellence. Thankfully, authorities did not find a weapon on campus, but we live in a time where we have to take all potential concerns very seriously. After receiving a concerning tip, campus administrators and local law enforcement took swift action to help ensure the safety of our students. As I’ve stated before, school safety is a top priority and we use extreme caution when it comes to our students and staff.

Our safety and security procedures worked well today, and all students and staff remained safe while the situation was investigated. However, I’d like to use this as an opportunity to provide a few reminders regarding our safety processes in Northwest ISD.

Report Safety Concerns
While the perceived threat today did not result in any findings, we are grateful that the concern was reported so that we could help ensure the safety of all of our students and secure our schools. In Northwest ISD, we want to establish a “see something, say something” culture. Please immediately report any safety concerns such as fights, weapons, drug use, self-harm, etc. to an administrator at your child’s school or submit an anonymous tip online through our district website. 
The anonymous tip line is available at the bottom of the district’s website, as well as every campus webpage. There is also a banner link on every campus homepage. (include image) Please talk to your child about the importance of reporting safety concerns, how NISD provides a safe, anonymous way to report, and review how to submit a report. 
NISD Safety Processes
As I read through some Facebook comments from the NISD page this afternoon, first let me say “thank you” for the thoughts and prayers that have been coming our way – that is very much appreciated. There were also some comments and questions regarding our safety procedures (including communication), and I need to address those for everyone. In regards to our school district’s safety processes, please know that we will always follow the guidance of local law enforcement and that we will always make decisions that are believed to be in the students’ best interest. As parents, I know we are concerned about our child’s wellbeing, but I need all parents and caregivers to take the following into consideration when we have these issues come up:

1. During the event, do not panic. NISD staff will keep your child in the safest place possible. You can review our safety processes (lockout, lockdown, evacuate, shelter, and hold) by clicking here .

2. NISD will communicate with you, but it has to be on our timeline…not yours. I know that might sound harsh, but please understand that we have to make sure everyone is safe first. I know parents are very stressed during these situations trying to ascertain if their kids are safe, but the district is not going to communicate until we know all students, staff, and any other adults in our buildings are safe and until we know the information we are providing is accurate. With student cell phones and social media, information and rumors often circulate faster than the district can respond. In the event of a lockdown or emergency, I understand that you will be concerned and will have questions. We will do our best to keep parents and guardians updated with factual information after we make sure our students are taken care of. As hard as it is to do so during these situations, please be patient and know that we will be communicating with you. Our standard forms of communication include phone calls, text messages, and emails.

3. While campus lockdowns or lockouts are in progress, please remember that we will not open school doors. It is important for families not to drive up to the school to check children out of school during a lockdown - which I know is many parents’ first instinct. Releasing students to guardians during a safety event is an extreme risk not only to parents and caregivers, but also to our students. In an emergency situation, having a line of parents waiting outside a campus could also create a safety hazard. It is safer for you to remain close to your phone, to the computer, or to the news stations so that you can receive updates. Students will not be released during a lockdown.

Help Prevent False Information
As I’ve shared before, please continue to monitor what your child is doing on social media and share with them the consequences of posting and/or sharing false information. Potential threats will be investigated, and pranks and false threats will not be tolerated. Please also remember to be responsible when using social media. Rumors and false information tend to create unnecessary panic among families and communities, so if you see something out there, don’t pass it on not knowing if it is the truth.

Today our procedures worked because we have practiced drills, and our students and staff understood our safety protocol. I am grateful for our administrators, school resource officers, local law enforcement, and our parents/caregivers who helped protect our students.

Thank you,

Ryder Warren, Superintendent of Schools
Northwest Independent School District

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