Washtenaw Superintendents’ Association Issues Statement on School Shootings and Safety

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The following was issued by the Washtenaw Superintendents’ Association on May 27, 2022:

Washtenaw County, Mich. - After the tragedy at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX, the Washtenaw Superintendents’ Association (WSA) is issuing a statement on school shootings and safety. The WSA represents the superintendents of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District and the nine public school districts in Washtenaw County: Ann Arbor Public Schools, Chelsea School District, Dexter Community Schools, Lincoln Consolidated Schools, Manchester Community Schools, Milan Area Schools, Saline Area Schools, Whitmore Lake Public Schools and Ypsilanti Community Schools. Their statement reads:

As we continue to process yet another tragic school shooting, we are heartbroken at the unnecessary loss of life and, at the same time, angry and frustrated that this continues to happen. We want to be clear that enough is enough. Too many children, families, and communities across the United States have been forever changed by school shootings. No child or educator should ever have to fear for their lives when they go to school. No family should ever worry that their child won’t come home. The horrific tragedy at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX, is the 27th school shooting in 2022 and the second deadliest one on record. The worst part is we know it will not be the last. We must act.

In the last 18 months, there have been 386 incidents of shootings on school grounds, and every time it happens, schools share public statements and condolences. More than 300,000 students across the country have experienced gun violence since the mass shooting at Columbine High School. Six months after the school shooting here in Oxford, MI, 10 years since Sandy Hook, and 23 years since Columbine, and far too many school shootings in-between, we cannot allow this to continue.

Schools have implemented security and surveillance measures, hired school resource officers, practiced active shooter and lockdown drills, coordinated threat identification and assessment processes, and maintained regular meetings and reviews with local law enforcement. While we can and will continue to focus a tremendous amount of energy on school safety, it is not enough. It will never be enough. While we work to make schools safe, we must also address the root of the problem.

The answer will be found in our ability to work together to: 1) Address federal and state policies around gun access and safety, 2) Build coordinated systems of support for children and families in and outside of school, and 3) Increase access to mental health and wellness services. We, alongside legislators, business and community leaders, and families, must take action to get to the heart of the issue to keep our schools and children safe.

Today, we need parents and community members to take action:

  • Come together and organize. Be loud, relentless, and persistent.
  • Contact your local, state and federal elected officials. Find who represents you and call or email them. When elected officials hear from their constituents, they are more likely to make your issues a priority.
  • Sandy Hook Promise and Everytown for Gun Safety focus on protecting children from gun violence and list several ways you can get involved.

Help and support is always available to students and families through their school district or by calling Washtenaw County’s Community Mental Health 24/7 crisis line at 734-544-3050, thanks to our community’s Public Safety and Mental Health Preservation Millage. We recognize, however, these resources are not available to all in our country and continue to advocate for additional services.

School and community violence has become all too common, and we urge our families and community members to take action. These tragedies are preventable. We are educators, and our responsibility is to educate children – we should not be in the business of solving this country's issues with gun violence. There is no easy solution to this national problem, but continuing to go through the same routines is not the answer. When the shooting at Oxford High School happened in our own backyard, we promised to do everything in our power to prioritize the safety of students, staff and families. We hold ourselves to this promise, and we also recognize that if we are going to create change in our world, we must do it all together.

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