School Safety at West Fargo Public Schools
If you base your perception of safety in schools solely on what you hear in the news, it isn’t surprising that many people in our community and across the nation think that schools are dangerous. However, research done by the National Center for Education Statistics through their School Survey on Crime and Safety indicates that the trends for violent crime and serious violent crime in schools have been declining since the early 1990s. Their data sources indicate that students are not often the victims of violent and serious violent crime in schools, physical bullying victimization has been on a downward trend, schools have reported fewer incidents of violent crime and serious violent crime, and school homicides, in comparison to other youth homicides, are relatively rare.
These encouraging findings do not mean that West Fargo Public Schools does not take threats of school violence seriously. School safety is a topic that we talk about more often than people realize…and more often than we would perhaps like; it does not take an incident or even a threat for school staff to begin conversations about school safety, but when situations occur across the nation, we are reminded of the importance of those conversations. They also remind us of how an informed community is a responsive community. While it would be inappropriate for the district to share every detail of our emergency preparedness efforts, we want to ensure that our learners, families, and educators have confidence in our district’s ability to provide a safe learning and working environment. We hope that these short descriptions of the four pillars of our emergency preparedness efforts provide that assurance.
The response protocols that we implement in an emergency come from Cass-Clay Unified School Response (CCUSR), a community collaborative between every school district and first responder agency in Cass and Clay Counties. When each WFPS school completes their 10 safety drills each year, they are utilizing resources from CCUSR to help train learners and educators in how to stay safe during lockdowns, shelter-in-place, evacuation, and reunification scenarios.
SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICERS
WFPS has partnered with the West Fargo Police Department on the SRO program since 2005. We currently have nine SROs that come to work every day in our district: one each at Cheney Middle School, Heritage Middle School, Liberty Middle School, Horace High School, Sheyenne High School, and West Fargo High School; two officers for all district elementary schools; and one Sergeant that helps to oversee the program.
In July 2022, West Fargo Public Schools worked with a nationally known consultant to rewrite our threat assessment protocol and to better define our response, management, and support plan. When a learner displays, through action or words, the potential for high risk behavior, the High Risk Behavior Decision Making Flowchart should be consulted to guide next steps. If completion of a threat assessment is warranted, the district utilizes an assessment tool that has been vetted by the FBI, Secret Service, and the US Department of Education.
The district has invested millions of dollars on systems and resources that help to ensure a safer campus: radios that allow school staff to not only communicate with one another but also with law enforcement, LobbyGuard visitor management systems,
secured entrances, panic buttons, and digital camera systems, to name a few.
If you have questions or concerns about our district’s safety protocols, you are encouraged to reach out to your principal. If they are unable to answer your question, they may pass you along to our district’s Director of Health, Safety, & Public Relations. At West Fargo Public Schools, school safety is a portfolio that everyone carries.
Cass-Clay Unified School Response (CCUSR)
West Fargo Public Schools participates in Cass-Clay Unified School Response (CCUSR), a community collaborative between every school district and first responder agency in Cass and Clay Counties. This seamless response among school districts and first responders, regardless of jurisdictional boundaries, is our greatest defense.
CCUSR acknowledges that in times of crisis, effective and consistent plans and procedures are vital to minimize physical and mental harm to students, staff, visitors to our schools, and our community as a whole. The resources developed by Cass Clay Unified School Response are considered “best practices.” Equal representation among professional disciplines and jurisdictions was considered in the development of these plans.
West Fargo Public Schools is committed to this unified effort, as we see the value of being part of a network of professionals who can work together to share information, learn from each other’s experience and identify ways to empower staff to achieve an even greater level of safety and security in our schools.