Dear AAPS Students, Staff, Parents and Community,
In light of recent events and ongoing concerns about the safety of our students in classrooms across our country, I want to assure our community that student safety remains our top priority in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, even before our critical mission of teaching and learning. Over recent days since the Parkland school shooting, we have been focused in the AAPS on strengthening our work, leveraging the challenges and adversity we currently face as an opportunity to deepen our core values of care, connection, and commitment in service to our children.
Our deepest commitment and determination are absolute; in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, we will do everything in our power to always maintain a welcoming, safe, nurturing, and comfortable learning environment for our children. The safety and well-being of our children, staff, and parents will remain the focus and priority of our policies, regulations, and daily practice in the Ann Arbor Public Schools. The presence of guns in schools, other than by sworn safety officers, runs contrary to everything we hold dear in education, and we believe it is counterproductive to maintaining a rich, productive, and healthy learning environment for our children.
We are publishing today an AAPS Student Safety Update, and invite you to explore the information provided and please reach out to your school principal or to any of us with any questions you may have. Over the days since Parkland, we have participated in a thorough review of district safety protocols and vetted the information included here with: local law enforcement agencies, AAPS school leaders, Trustees of the Board of Education, parent representatives at PTO Council and also internally with our teachers and AAPS team members to ensure that we are well organized and prepared for our next steps together to continue to ensure the safety of our students and staff each day. In addition, principals and I continue to meet with student leaders from our campuses to ensure that their voices have been heard, their questions have been answered, and that we have done everything we can to help them feel heard, supported and safe at school.
Our desired outcome with this AAPS Student Safety Update is to provide clarity and direction, support and reassurance to all our stakeholders in the AAPS community.
Please know that in the AAPS, we support the first amendment rights of students and we will support the National School Walkout event coming up on March 14. Of course, this includes supporting all students, those who choose to march and those who choose not to do so. We will be using a developmentally appropriate plan on this day, and so invite you to see your principal’s communication for clarity as to what will be occurring at your school. Over the coming days, we will continue to respond to questions and provide any clarifications needed prior to the National Walkout Day one week from today.
It is our greatest honor to serve the students of Ann Arbor; we all understand that communities are known by their capacity to care for their youngest and most vulnerable. Ensuring that our children are safe to learn and grow in our nation’s classrooms is a commitment we must make, a promise we must keep. We are most fortunate in the Ann Arbor Public Schools to benefit from strong community connection, collaboration, and support.
Thank you for your continued support of our 18,140 children and of the ongoing work to keep our students, staff, parents, and community safe in the Ann Arbor Pubic Schools.
Jeanice K. Swift
Superintendent of Schools
Ann Arbor Public Schools