Superintendent Cassidy Responds to Fatal Shooting in Uvalde, Tx
HPS works with public safety officials to provide all students and staff with powerful learning opportunities in safe, secure, and predictable environments.
Dear HPS Community,
It is with a heavy heart that I am sending another communication in response to a tragedy at a school, this time an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. It was less than 6 months ago that a message was sent out in the aftermath of Oxford. In those six months we have done much to update our safety measures and work collaboratively with first responders to make sure that we are doing everything we can to prevent and minimize events like these.
We have various safety protocols in place to protect students, teachers and staff. Our safety measures include, but are not limited to:
- locked entryways and door buzzers
- security cameras
- lockdown drills and procedures
- mental health resources
- a variety of proactive measures, plans, and interventions to address individual student behaviors
In addition, we have a partnership with the Holland Police Department and have Community Police Officers supporting all of our schools. Since December we have been working with the Holland Police and emergency responders on our safety protocols. This work will continue over the summer with updated policies and procedures for the beginning of the 2022/23 school year.
After several conversations with Trustees of the Board of Education since yesterday, it is clear that Holland Public Schools must do more to advocate for legislative change that will improve safety for children and schools. Moving forward, we will be more active in encouraging our leaders at the state level and beyond to find solutions that will result in safer and more predictable learning environments for students and staff.
If you see something, say something!
The best preventative safety measure we can have in place is a community that notifies authorities and school personnel when a threat arises. In most instances, there have been warning signs.
We also have to acknowledge that after the events at Oxford, schools were overwhelmed with threats and reports of threats (some intentionally false). On December 9, 2021, I sent the following reminder to families about making threats concerning school safety:
In today’s world of “social media” and the constant barrage of information, both accurate and inaccurate, we encourage you to share that we are a safe place and dispel any rumors that you hear. Now, more than ever, we need to equip our students with the truth as it relates to school safety and work together to communicate any questionable behavior, conversations, or threats to those who can help.
When a threat is brought to our attention, we investigate it immediately and thoroughly. These investigations can vary with each case, but are likely to include getting statements from student witnesses, backpack checks, computer history checks, violence risk assessments, home visits (when applicable), and/or involvement of law enforcement (when applicable).
If a comment or threat is substantiated, the response can vary depending on the severity. At a minimum, a specific safety plan will be in place with consequences, but severe threats could lead to criminal charges and exclusionary consequences up to permanent expulsion from school.
We also want to address the additional issue of “copycat” threats that have come up in some of our surrounding districts that have led to the closure of school. We urge you (where appropriate) to talk with your child(ren) about the seriousness of making copycat threats concerning the school. We would hate for a student, or group of students, to make a mistake of this magnitude and suffer the consequences that would follow.
Below is a list of possible charges for making a threat against a school:
- Threat of Terrorism - 20 Years and/or $20,000.00; reimburse government for expenses incurred from violation (see MCL 750.543x & 769.1f)
- False Threat of Terrorism - 20 Years and/or $20,000.00; reimburse government for expenses incurred from violation (see MCL 750.543x & 769.1f)
- Use of Internet/Telecommunications to Commit Terrorism - 20 Years and/or $20,000.00; reimburse government for expenses incurred from violation (see MCL 750.543x & 769.1f)
- Intentional threat to commit an act of violence against a school - 1 Year misdemeanor and/or $1,000.00
- Intentional Threat to Commit Act of Violence Against School, School Employees or Students with Specific Intent to Carry Out or Overt Act Toward - 10 Years and/or $20,000.00
- Use of a Computer to Commit a Crime - Generally same as the crime committed up to a maximum of 20 years
We will always err on the side of caution in regards to student and staff safety and will communicate with you if there is ever a need for concern. We continue to promote the use of OK2Say program and the ability to anonymously report concerns to people who can help. OK2Say is available 24/7 and tips can be submitted in the following ways:
- Call: 8-555-OK2SAY (855-565-2729)
- Text: 652729 (OK2SAY)
- Email: OK2SAY@mi.gov
- OK2SAY website: ok2say.com
- OK2SAY mobile app: Available for download in app stores for iPhone and Android
Please reach out if you have questions or concerns, but please trust that we are working tirelessly to keep our schools safe, secure, and predictable.
Superintendent - Holland Public Schools