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Letter From Our Superintendent



Printable Version of this letter

February 22, 2018

Dear Families,
It has been just over a week since the school shooting in Florida. I am sure I am like many of you in having restless nights as we make sense of what we are seeing on the news, and reflect upon on our children in the Enumclaw School District. When talking with others of being a dad to Hans and Anna, I have often used the phrase I heard many years ago, they are “my heart beating outside of my body.” For me, it is the best way to describe a love between a parent and child. My heart aches for parents and communities who have experienced an incident like the one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Even though this has been a difficult and emotional conversation across our nation, it’s hard not to say, "what if..." in regard to a situation occurring in our school district.

The purpose of this message is to provide you with baseline information about our school district protocols, as well as safety systems we do have in place, and to provide you with how we are continuing to improve these protocols through staff training and building even stronger partnerships with core agencies.

Our schools are in full compliance with Washington state law when it comes to practicing all emergency education and monthly drills. This includes evacuation (fire), earthquake, shelter in place and lockdown protocols. Of these drills, the most connected to the incident in Florida are the various levels of lockdown protocols. With each report after incidents like this, we thoughtfully review processes for possible improvements to our protocols. Part of this process is meeting with our local emergency responders to discuss school procedures and plan next steps.

The overall goal we use in addressing an active shooter incident is to ensure students and staff are safely secure as fast as possible and get accurate information to emergency responders to decrease their response time. A phrase we use internally to guide us is to increase the amount of time it takes for an intruder to enter buildings/classrooms and decrease the response time of our first responders. We are grateful for the ongoing partnership with our law enforcement officers, knowing they are working with us to achieve this same goal.

With that overall goal in mind, I also want to take a moment to write to you, to share a few examples that we have in place of which you might not be aware

  • On Tuesday of this week, we met with the Black Diamond and Enumclaw Police Chiefs and the Enumclaw Fire Chief to review and solidify our protocols and to develop additional training for staff.
  • All of our schools are mapped on a shared online system called Rapid Responder. All core responders can access building maps including entrances/exits, room numbers, specific information about that facility, all from their computers (in their vehicles) at any time.
  • Our schools have security cameras around all entrances/perimeter and in key interior locations that are able to be accessed in real time by our staff and core responders.
  • Each of our schools has clearly defined routines and procedures for each type of emergency, which are practiced regularly.

As in any emergency situation, our pledge to you is to send out accurate and timely communication. If at any point you have changes to your contact information, please let our schools know immediately. If you would like to review this information for your family, please go to your child’s Family Access account. If something is inaccurate, please call your school to make changes.

We will be communicating via the following methods:

If you are on Facebook or Twitter, I encourage you to like our ESD Facebook page and follow our Twitter account.

Working Together
I fully believe we have a common value across our nation to keep our students and citizens safe from harm whether at school, the mall, church, theater, nightclub or any other public gathering spot. I believe we must acknowledge in one another that this is our united and common value. The conversation in the media as a result of last week’s incident is focusing on a range of solutions including legislative decisions for purchasing weapons, arming staff, and emotional wellness of individuals. Each one of these issues is intensely complicated and draws out emotions in each of us. As a district, we are committed to building a safer school and community-wide system with our elected officials and community partners.

Thank you for reading to the end of this very long, yet important communication. The staff and I look forward to welcoming your children back on Monday. Please know they will enter buildings filled with loving adults who are committed to providing a safe and productive learning environment for our students… while knowing they are “your heart beating outside of your body.”


Michael D. Nelson