December 3, 2021 Community Update: A Message from Superintendent Williams on School Safety

Dear Team BCPS,

I have heard from members of our community who are concerned about challenging student behavior and its impact on school environments. I want to provide an update on our ongoing efforts to address student safety and also solicit your help with this critical work. Our schools continue to take proactive measures that foster safe, secure, and supportive environments for all students and staff throughout Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS).  The ongoing trauma experienced by families as a result of this global pandemic continues to manifest itself in an uptick of disruptive behaviors. We are not alone, school systems across the nation are facing similar challenges. The associate director of the Center for Childhood Resilience notes that the return to full-time in person learning has resulted in “a prolonged adjustment period” because of the increased interaction and structure. 

Like you, I am troubled by the reports of increasingly disruptive behaviors that have created added stress and exhaustion for staff, and additional worry for families. There are no easy answers. However, my team and I are committed to working with all members of Team BCPS to tackle these issues. It is important to note that social media threats and community-based conflicts, at times involving adult members of our community, are carried into school environments. This creates an additional hardship on schools and impacts school staff’s ability to provide a safe and supportive learning environment for all. Below are a list of actions and opportunities we are taking to partner with the BCPS community to ensure that our schools can focus on teaching and learning: 
  • Upcoming Live Virtual Town Hall Meetings by zone during the Week of December 13. These solution-oriented meetings are a follow up to the systemwide meeting held in October and will focus on community-related safety concerns. They will be facilitated by School Safety Managers and Executive Directors that work directly with schools. Meeting information will be sent via School Messenger.
  • Deployment of central office staff to schools to address identified needs, provide an enhanced adult presence, and help ensure safe and supportive environments.Use of alternative education options for students in need of additional support. School staff will work with families to create responsive solutions to meet the needs of all students.
  • BCPS Student Council will launch a system-wide mental health awareness campaign in December and partner with the Maryland Center for School Safety for a “See It, Hear It, Report It” campaign in January.
  • Upcoming Parent University presentation on conscious discipline entitled “Supporting the Social-Emotional Needs of Your Child and Yourself” with a focus on the topic of composure. It will be held on Tuesday, December 14 at 12:30 p.m. For more information and to register, visit the Parent University link or call 443-809-0365.
  • Parent Teacher Association Council of Baltimore County will be meeting in January to share resources with all local PTA presidents focused on the important role of the community in working with the school district to build safe and supportive learning environments. Local PTSA’s will host school specific meetings focused on safety.
  • We will bring together leaders, teachers, support professional and community partners for a multi-district, round table session. Participants will collaborate and work together in January 2022 to identify innovative solutions. 

We invite you to participate in as many of the upcoming activities as possible.  Please continue to work directly with your school leadership teams to collaborate on positive solutions for the school community. Our partnership is critical during these challenging times.

With appreciation,

Darryl L. Williams, Ed.D.

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