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Cape Elizabeth High School
320 Ocean House Road
Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107

News from the Superintendent's Office

Emergency policies, plans sharpened following recent tragedies against schools

October 3, 2006

Dear Cape Elizabeth Parents and Community Members,

As we monitor the third tragedy against schools in the past week, there is a definite need not to panic but to communicate with you. Cape Elizabeth schools have had emergency plans in place for several years. There has been work between the schools and emergency personnel from Cape Elizabeth, the county, and the state for planning and implementation. Today Cape Elizabeth school personnel are all carefully reviewing our current emergency policies and plans.

At the beginning of the school year, I had the opportunity to attend a full day training on Crisis Hazard Management Planning for Schools through the York/Cumberland County Project Smarrrt group. Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet with Russ Webster, a Cape Elizabeth resident who has strong experience in safety program planning and implementation. He is currently a volunteer with the Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency (CCEMA). He discussed with me the needs for even more advanced plans and procedures. Last week, prior to all of the recent school incidents, John Casey, Troy Henninger, and I met to review the current policies. At that time, we developed an annual review process with appropriate local and county agencies. John Casey agreed to oversee our emergency plan programs this year, and he has already set a meeting for Thursday, October 26th with building and appropriate municipal emergency staff. At that meeting there will be a review of the plans, discussion of plans not in place, and a table top practice of a possible incident.

The attack yesterday at the small Amish school in Pennsylvania truly brings home an understanding that no public building is completely safe.

I have asked all school leaders to take immediate action at each school to

  1. review their plan with appropriate staff and ensure its immediate accuracy,
  2. meet with all staff, including all custodians and food service workers, to review the process and procedures,
  3. ensure that clear communication routes are defined and available,
  4. take action to even more fully watch people entering and leaving the buildings,
  5. have all staff wearing the identification tags mandated in school board policy,
  6. review all emergency signage and make sure any and all adults in the building are well aware of safety procedures (this includes volunteers),
  7. review building locked security to ensure that only doors that are watched can be entered during the day,
  8. not allow anyone to be on the floors of the building without appropriate identification, and
  9. have staff in halls between classes observing, watching and listening.

The Cape Elizabeth school system takes these actions across the nation very seriously. We are doing all we can to provide a safe learning environment for students and staff alike. Specific school plans regarding evacuations, lockdowns, and other protective measures have been developed and will be available to you. Based on the developmental maturity of the student audience, I have asked principals to remind students about evacuation, lockdown, and out-of-school protection.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at 799-2217 or to e-mail me at ahawkins@cape.k12.me.us.

Alan H. Hawkins
Superintendent of Schools

See related story, School Safety Plans under annual review   (09/13/06)



last updated 10/03/2006