February 23, 2018
Dear RSU 21 School Community:
As nearly 2,700 students and 500 employees return to RSU 21 after vacation, there is always a range of emotion. Following the recent school shooting in Florida, the transition back from this February break is naturally heightened. I am writing to update you on a few additional steps we are taking to provide support.
Next week, you will notice an increased police presence at each of our schools. There is no need for alarm. This additional security is being provided in partnership with our local police departments in effort to help smooth the transition.
Recent media reports about providing teachers with firearms or placing armed trained volunteers, veterans, or off-duty officers in our schools, have many parents and teachers worried. None of these ideas are permissible under current Maine law. In Maine, the only people who are allowed to posses a firearm on school property are police officers while on duty.
As you may have heard, there is a call for a national student walk-out on March 14th. This is a grass-roots, student-led, effort. RSU 21 is not encouraging, supporting, or facilitating this walk-out. While our teachers may be tempted to join the walk-out either in protest or support, doing so would disrupt and interfere with the operation of our schools. With that said, our local law enforcement agencies stand ready to provide an increased presence on that date. Students will not be disciplined for peaceful protest as long as it does not disrupt the school environment. They will be held responsible for making up any missed work.
In the coming weeks, we are expanding our collaborative efforts with Kennebunk and Kennebunkport Police Departments and the York County Sheriff’s Office by providing two increased training opportunities. We are sending key emergency management personnel to Protecting Our Schools: A Physical Training Assessment Course. This course will provide our team with additional skills to evaluate and identify security weakness in our schools. We are also exploring a few different professional development resources that would help local law enforcement officers and RSU 21 employees better identify potential warning signs and further align our prevention, identification, and intervention procedures. Once we have a designated resource, we will notify parents and community members in effort to create a common understanding and dialogue.
In closing, the 8-week stretch between February and April vacation is a critical learning time. Teachers and students are into a fluid routine, they know one another well, and our mid-year assessment data allows us to tailor instruction to each learner. Please join us in helping your child feel safe, calm, and focused in our schools. Thank you for your partnership and support.
Dr. Kathryn Hawes
Superintendent of Schools