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Superintendent’s Letter to Families

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Superintendent’s Letter to Families
Posted on 02/16/2018
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Dear Portland Public Schools families,

My heart goes out to the families, students and staff at the Florida high school where a school shooting took place Feb. 14. I have reached out to Superintendent Bob Runcie to let him know that his district is in the thoughts and prayers of all of our school community.

Each one of these senseless tragedies hits close to home for all of us, but such violence is particularly frightening and bewildering for children. It’s up to us, schools and parents, to help our children feel safe and be able to process their feelings about such events.

I have asked our school leaders to make sure school counselors and social workers are available to help students struggling to understand and provide a safe place for them to talk. I’ve also asked staff to be extra vigilant about helping those under particular duress.

Also, please know that the Portland Public Schools takes very seriously our responsibility to safeguard the approximately 6,700 students entrusted to our care each day.  We work hard to ensure that our buildings remain safe spaces and we have safety protocols in place to deal with emergencies.

Just as importantly, we also work hard to support the health and well being of all of our students in a positive social and emotional school climate. Such a climate can reduce bullying and discrimination – and the potential for school violence. Bullying and other unsafe behaviors also can take place on social media, so I encourage you to be aware of your children’s presence and communications online and share any concerns with school staff.

Please click to read some helpful guidance from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) on talking to children about violence and also some tips from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on helping children cope with traumatic events. Families who choose to have age-appropriate discussions with their children about such issues may find this information useful.

(To read the NASP guidance in other languages, please go to this link: https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/translated-safety-and-crisis-resources)

I hope this information is helpful and please know that we working hard every day to keep our schools safe.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me (superintendent@portlandschools.org or 874-8100).


Xavier Botana, Superintendent