Remembering Sandy Hook: Keeping our Schools Secure Every Day

Dear AISD Community,

Tomorrow, communities throughout the country will commemorate the one-year anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Earlier this week, community members in Newtown, Conn. launched an online memorial, which features a simple and poignant design: a heart created from the first names of the 26 victims.

As a country—as a school community—we were deeply saddened to learn about the loss of 20 children and six teachers and staff members. Since then, our thoughts and prayers have remained with the school’s community and families as they came together to heal and rebuild.

Last year’s school shooting in Connecticut is a tragic reminder that we must all remain vigilant to safeguard campus security.

In AISD, safety always is our number one priority. For almost three decades, the district has maintained its own police department. Situations that threaten our schools’ safety and security are never tolerated or acceptable. The district has been and will continue to be vigilant in our efforts to protect every child and team member from harm.

AISD’s award-winning police department evaluates the district’s safety needs and procedures on a regular basis. And, every day, we ask our team members, families and community members to help us ensure our schools remain safe by alerting principals if they have any safety concerns or see people whom they do not recognize.

In order to protect the security of our students, staff members and campus communities, AISD requires all visitors to report to the school’s main office, present appropriate identification and wear a visible visitor’s badge at all times. If regular visits to schools or direct interactions with students are anticipated, visitors must consent to a criminal history background check.

We continually explore new options for increasing security protocols as needed. Some of the district’s safety and security upgrades were made possible by funds from the 2008 bond. Most recently, the district has taken these steps to increase our campus safety:

  • This week, the St. David’s Foundation announced it is matching last year’s million-dollar challenge with an investment of $1,068,051 in AISD’s Social and Emotional Learning program. SEL is the process through which children and adults acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to recognize and manage their emotions, demonstrate caring and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle challenging situations constructively.
  • At the start of the school year, all principals received specialized training on safety and security protocols and were asked to reinforce those protocols with staff members.
  • District-wide, AISD provided additional professional development opportunities for principals that focus on how to tighten procedures to ensure that all students are accounted for throughout the day.
  • This fall, AISD improved exterior play spaces at the elementary schools to further safeguard our students.
  • Beginning this year, the AISD police department dedicated six officers to patrol and monitor all elementary schools in the city during the school day—an increase over previous years—to complement the 69 officers already serving our middle and high schools and the district. 

These are a few examples of AISD’s ongoing, district-wide commitment to ensure our students, team members and school communities remain safe and secure. For information about additional resources that help keep our school communities well-informed, healthy and out of harm’s way, please visit the AISD website.

We do not do this work alone. Thank you for everything you do every day to keep our school communities safe.


Meria Carstarphen

Looking for AISD's initial statement on the school shooting in Connecticut? Read the superintendent's 2012 statement.

AISD Policy for School Visitors: The Board of Trustees policy for visitors to schools (GKC – LOCAL, adopted 2009) is available in board documents.

Talking About Tragedy with Children: As news coverage about the school shooting continues, students may have questions about the incident. Talking about tragedy with children is important, but can be difficult. AISD counselors are available to speak with students. The district's learning support services team also shares tips with parents about how they can discuss the tragedy with children at home.

Interested in learning more about AISD from the superintendent's perspective? Read the superintendent's Power of Us blog.