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Agencies Celebrate Safe Schools Partnership

REDMOND, OR -- School officials, fire and police Chiefs, Sheriffs and other community leaders from across the tri-county area meet Wednesday to celebrate their continued commitment to the region’s Safe Schools Alliance and recognize America's Safe Schools Week


John Rexford, Superintendent of the High Desert ESD, says the alliance was formed as a reaction to the 1998 Thurston High shooting, in Springfield. But, he tells KBND News the focus has evolved over the years. "The mission of this group is really much broader; it really focuses on all those kind of security and safety issues, including mental health, fire drills, evacuation drills, earthquake drills. It’s really about the whole child. This is about making sure that each student feels safe and secure." He adds, "Sometimes that’s literal, in making sure the school can be evacuated in a timely manner, in the event of a fire. Sometimes it’s making sure that there’s an adult that a student can reach out when they’re feeling like they’re in a bad spot or that they need some help in some manner." 


Wednesday's celebration takes place at the High Desert ESD office in Redmond. Rexford compares the event to a renewing of marriage vows. "It’s symbolic, but it’s important to remind ourselves, frankly, of the wide range of partners that are involved in this alliance." Those partners include every school district, law enforcement and fire agency and District Attorney in Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson County, along with mental health and juvenile justice leaders. "I can’t point you to many other examples of this sort of partnership across the state. But, this one has really stood the test of time and these folks really dig in and do some really meaty stuff on trying to make sure that every student is safe and secure."
Members meet monthly during the school year to discuss issues ranging from student attendance and pot legalization, to sex trafficking and protocols for responding to school violence. 

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