Scottsdale Schools drives home goals, responsibility of public education
Staff Reports | Digital Free Press
Securing opportunities for students to learn and succeed is a top priority for public education leaders at the Scottsdale Unified School District.
“Because kids,” which has emerged within district halls as a common theme helping create a culture committed to creating safe and secure learning environments where students can thrive.
School safety and security is a shared responsibility reliant on vigilant students, staff, parents and law enforcement partners, SUSD officials tell the Arizona Digital Free Press.
“To promote this culture of safety, we encourage our school communities to be active participants in keeping our schools safe,” said Scottsdale Unified School District Security Director Josh Friedman in a prepared statement. “We ask that they be aware and immediately report any activity that appears to be suspicious, to the district and local law enforcement agencies.”
With nearly 22,000 students in 30 schools, the Scottsdale Unified School District continues to be a preferred choice for pre-kindergarten through grade 12 public education for 126 years.
Found part of metropolitan Phoenix, but based in downtown Scottsdale, the district serves the educational needs of students and families in Phoenix, Paradise Valley, Fountain Hills, Tempe and Scottsdale.
DIG-IT at Scottsdale Schools
SUSD remains focused on its award-winning DIG-IT safety campaign to protect campuses.
DIG-IT, school leaders say, requires doors and gates are locked, students and staff wear their district-issued identification badges, and users of SUSD technology devices use cybersecurity best practices, such as protecting passwords, and are aware of potential threats, such as phishing schemes.
A brief look at school resource officers at Scottsdale Schools
SUSD officials say they are proud of the strong partnerships forged with the Scottsdale, Phoenix and Paradise Valley police departments.
School Resource Officers are assigned to the district’s nine middle grades schools and five high schools, where they work closely with the local educational community.
“The safety of our children and our schools is a top priority for the Scottsdale Police Department as we embark upon a new academic year,” said Scottsdale Police Chief Jeff Walther.
“Our incredibly committed School Resource Officers are eager to stand by our students every step of the way. That dedication and commitment has always been met by an unparalleled partnership with the Scottsdale Unified School District at all levels of the organization. Together, we stand united in ensuring that our children can learn in a safe and secure environment.”
The district recently received grant funding for two additional Scottsdale PD SROs. It is hoped that these positions will be filled by the fall of 2024, at which time they will be assigned to Anasazi and Yavapai Elementary schools.
SUSD’s team of 32 security staff members are present at our campuses during school hours and are strategically distributed across our district high schools, middle schools and K-8 schools for after-hours public events, ensuring a strong presence and heightened security.
Of Note: The Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board recently funded an annual contract for these measures to unfold campus-wide, district officials say.
Crisis Canines at Scottsdale Schools
Three crisis canines are assigned to the SRO programs based at Chaparral and Coronado high schools and Mohave Middle School.
These highly trained dogs — Rocket, Captain and Copper — provide invaluable support during critical situations. Working closely with its local law enforcement partners, the district plans to expand this highly successful student and staff support program to schools in SUSD’s Desert Mountain and Arcadia Learning Communities in coming years. Funding for the crisis canine program is a community collaboration between the SUSD Foundation, the city of Scottsdale and the school district.
New Radio System and StopFinder at Scottsdale Schools
A critical component of any school safety program, SUSD officials say, is the ability of school and district security personnel to be in contact with each other through a reliable communications system.
For the new school year, SUSD school and security personnel will use a new radio communication system Mr. Friedman believes will revolutionize communications across the district.
“We’ve been working for some time now with an outdated system that required constant, expensive infrastructure maintenance,” Mr. Friedman explained. “Our new radios allow us to not only communicate clearly and efficiently with each other, but they also provide us with seamless communication access to our public safety partners and various district departments that play key roles in an emergency, such as our transportation team.”
Also, the new StopFinder app allows registered parents to know where their student’s bus is on its way to and from school and where their student boarded and exited it.
Effective communications with SUSD’s parent partners also take center stage in the district’s enhanced safety and security systems for 2023-24. The district is excited to launch ParentSquare, a new communication platform that will streamline regular and emergency communications between school and home.
With ParentSquare, parents, teachers and administrators can easily stay connected and receive prompt updates during crisis situations.
“At SUSD, we remain dedicated to the safety and well-being of our educational community,” said Superintendent Dr. Scott Menzel. “Through thoughtful, strategic initiatives, partnerships and state-of-the-art communication systems, we are continuously taking steps to ensure a safe and engaging teaching and learning environment for our students and staff.”