An Update from Mr. McDonough
I am reaching out this afternoon to offer an update regarding safety and security measures at Bellaire High School. The information below includes measures we have taken both in the short and long term. Each of these pieces will continue to be monitored and adjustments made as appropriate. Bellaire has worked closely with the safety and security experts in our district, namely both the HISD Police department and the HISD Risk Management department. Coupling their recommendations with our experience in leading a school, we are actively working together to assess and improve the safety and security measures we have in place.
Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with a parent for whom their profession is to serve as a security consultant. A term she used that has resonated with me is layered security. Similar to how in your home you may have a dog, an alarm, and a fence, none of those alone are 100% preventative. Yet as layers upon each other they may bring a strong sense of safety and security.
During a press conference held on campus yesterday afternoon, Interim Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan shared a number of safety and security steps the district will immediately begin to explore. An element of her remarks included that they will assess all middle and high school campuses to evaluate the viability of installing metal detectors.
Please allow this message to serve as an update regarding some both short-term and long-term layers we are trying to maximize.
- There will be a single point of entry for students and visitors to campus at the Circle Drive on Maple St. We will conduct unannounced bag reviews periodically as students enter the building.
- HISD K9 Unit will continue to perform random visits on campus to review lockers and other shared areas on campus.
- In an attempt to remove any negative stigma attached to letting us know about concerns, we have posted QR Codes on campus regarding the Anonymous Reporting Tool. We have also created and shared a screencast that demonstrates how to report any concerns as well as confirm that the report is fully anonymous. Watch the screencast here.
- Students have been and will continue to be reminded that the possession of a weapon on campus is a crime and that any student found with a weapon will be disciplined to the fullest extent within the HISD Code of Student Conduct.
- A student input form has been created and shared regarding safety and security here on campus. The results of this survey will continue to inform our practices moving forward. Students can access the form here.
- We have met with our faculty and staff and begun to build upon their ideas regarding safety and security on campus.
- Current practices have been tightened before school and during lunch. Only 11th & 12th grade students with approved Home Lunch Permits are allowed to leave and must have their green BHS ID with them. If your son/daughter is still seeking a Home Lunch Permit, the form may be accessed here.
- For anyone attending after-hours performances in the auditorium, we are asking that you enter through the doors along S Rice near the auditorium. Both an HISD Police Officer and at least one Bellaire administrator will be in attendance at each event/performance. For anyone attending an after-hours meeting, we will have the doors at the Circle Drive on Maple Street open for entry to the meeting spot.
Among the feedback I have received in the last ten days, many have asked what they can do to support their children, the Bellaire faculty/staff, and the overall Bellaire HS community. I would offer the following suggestions.
- Please begin or continue to discuss with your child who it is on campus they feel they have the highest level of trust. It is critical for each student to know at least one adult on campus that they can go to with any type of concern. I cannot emphasize enough the power of relationships when it comes to safety.
- Please reinforce to your child the importance of saying something when they see something. It makes no difference whether they do this through a private conversation with an adult, the use of the Bellaire anonymous reporting tool, the Houston ISD anonymous reporting tool or contacting Crimestoppers. Students have incredible influence in helping our campus remain as safe as possible.
- Please remind your child to be where they should be - when they should be. Students in class on time makes a difference.
- Our doors will open each morning at 7:15am. Please arrange a timely pick-up or transportation for your child at our 4:00pm dismissal.
- If you are a gun owner then I would respectfully ask that you keep any weapons locked and secured at all times. Our PTO has worked with the Be SMART Campaign and there are many resources available to families to ensure that guns remain out of the hands of children.
I also want to let you know that as a school campus we are healing, we are in the process of recovery, and our path forward is one being taken with patience, kindness, and respect. The support for the family of Cesar Cortes as well as our overall school community has been tremendous. The questions and concerns have also been on the mark and are being heard. As I shared earlier, we remain committed to aligning our strategies with the recommendations of our safety and security experts.
Please do not hesitate to let me know how else I can support you and your children.