A word from Superintendent Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria I.S.D.

Closing thoughts: Are the campuses safe?

A word from superintendent Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria I.S.D.

The one question I have been asked more than any other at the start of this school year is, “are the
campuses safe?” Imagine walking into the Victoria Fine Arts Center and finding the room stacked from floor to ceiling and wall to wall with documents. That image accurately describes what I see in my mind when asked this very simple question because the honest answer is, “it depends.” Please continue reading.

I could write one article per week for the remainder of this school year and still not cover the changes
and improvements we have made in just the last six months at Victoria ISD. To name just a few, we have
created campus response guides for every campus in the district, so staff have ready access to safety
measures by incident. We have implemented a Standard Response Protocol (SRP). We are implementing the Standard Reunification Method (SRM) to reunite families in case of emergency. We conducted a Parent/Child Reunification Tabletop with our emergency response partners, which included: Citizens Medical Center, Victoria Fire Department, Victoria Police Department, Victoria County Sheriff’s Office, and Various VISD administrative departments. We have applied delayed-entry film to many campus entrances and will continue to do so throughout the year. We established Safe and Supportive Schools Programs at all VISD campuses. We are upgrading security camera monitoring systems. We now have video intercoms at the main entrances. We updated doors and locks as we were able and continue to do so. We’ve installed a VoIP phone system with enhanced security features. We have hardened front office vestibules on several campuses with more work planned in this area. Our Board Safety and Security Committee has met twice over the summer. We dedicated a portion of our administrative renewal to having Victoria Police and Sheriffs, Fire and Health department
answer questions for administration. Our schools were safe before we left at the end of last year and they are even more secure now.

With all the above in mind, please also know I could write an article per week for the remainder of this
school year and still not cover the places where we would like to improve safety measures. You can think of this in the same way you think about the physical safety of your home. You reinforce the areas of greatest risk and concern, but most of us find it impossible to make a home 100% impenetrable. For obvious safety reasons, I will list none of these here.

So, what is the answer to the question about “are our schools safe?” To really answer that question, I
must share the single most important detail when it comes to safe and unsafe campuses. Safe campuses are the ones where every single person takes personal responsibility to know that the kids in that building are safe. It is the responsibility of the principal, instructional staff, and support staff. It is also the responsibility of the students in the building to ensure we follow procedures and protocols. It is also the responsibility of parents, guardians, and caretakers who visit our buildings. The saying, “see something, say something” applies here. If you see a safety concern, please do not keep it a secret. We are all on the same page and working together to keep our children safe and we do a darn good job, but we are even better with your help. Finally, it is also the responsibility of the community that surrounds the school campus. We all know our own neighborhoods and the difference between normal and not normal. If something is not normal in the neighborhood surrounding a school, say something to the local law enforcement and our procedures will allow them to notify the school if there is a perceived threat.

Frankly, our single biggest threat is if even one person assumes that school safety is someone else’s
responsibility. Are our schools safe? The answer is in your hands.

By  Supt. Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria I.S.D.