Jan. 10, 2013
School safety updates & enhancements 
Dear HPISD Parents & Staff,

Dr. Dawson Orr
As we settle in following winter break, I would like to continue our conversation about school safety. All of us in HPISD believe that the safety of our students and staff is of the utmost importance, and we are continually working with our community partners to evaluate and improve our practices. Today, I want to update you on our safety plans and steps we are taking to enhance the measures we already have in place.
  • Facilities: During the break, University Park and Highland Park safety officials walked campuses with us to identify areas where we could enhance security. We are taking steps based on their expertise, along with suggestions from SHW Architects. While it would not be wise to publicize our security steps or protocols, we appreciate the feedback we have received from staff and community members, and we are implementing many of those ideas.
  • Texting: In addition to sending emails, HPISD is setting up an emergency communication system that will allow us to send text messages to parents in the case of an emergency. It is our goal to test this new system over the next two weeks. If you did not provide a cell phone number during online registration, please supply one by clicking on this link.
  • Email and web postings: HPISD will continue to use email and web announcements for emergency communication, in addition to texting.
  • Campus lockdowns, evacuations and sheltering in place: Faculty and students have been trained to use these emergency procedures, and each campus regularly conducts drills. In the case of an emergency that necessitates a lockdown or sheltering in place, we ask that parents not risk their own safety by coming to their child's school. We will use the messaging system to notify you once the lockdown has been lifted and the students may be picked up from school.
  • Weather readiness: HPISD has purchased early-alert software recommended by safety officials to allow time to prepare for dangerous weather. Parents and employees will receive updates as conditions evolve and will be reminded of emergency procedures.
  • Training: HPISD staff receives safety training on an ongoing basis, and the district is consulting with security experts to offer additional support. Recommendations from law enforcement or the security consultant will be incorporated into the existing safety plan.
  • Partnership with law enforcement officials: HPISD is joining with UP, HP and SMU safety officials to set up a digital radio network that will allow us to communicate in emergency situations. This is in the early stages, and we will be setting up and testing equipment and training employees over the next month. We appreciate the SMU police department for allowing us to share the infrastructure that will make this possible.
Many of these initiatives have been in development for months, and their final stages are occurring at a time when safety is foremost in our minds. We believe that safety is a community effort, and we ask our parents to help us with some common-sense measures:
  • Please reinforce the message we give to our students about the importance of not opening campus doors to let people in, even their friends or others they may know. This allows us to know who is on campus and to run visitors through the security clearance procedure at the front office.
  • If you are a campus volunteer, please wear your badge. This will help us avoid a bottleneck at the front office.
We appreciate the commitment that our parents and staff consistently demonstrate for student safety in HPISD, and we thank our local law enforcement officials for their wise counsel and for their daily campus patrols. We will continue to keep you updated on this important subject throughout the school year.

We value your feedback and ideas. Please send your comments to hponline@hpisd.org.


Dr. Dawson Orr
Superintendent of Schools
Highland Park ISD
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