Addressing student safety and budget plans; submit questions

A Message from Superintendent Greg Baker

Dear students, staff, families and community members,

I want to share an update on a few important topics that we are continuing to work on in our district and across our schools and invite you to share your questions.

Supporting survivors of sexual assault; mandatory reporting processes

We continue to look closely at mandated reporting responsibilities and processes and how our schools and district support student safety, especially as we have heard questions and concerns from our community.

Here are some steps we are taking to address questions and lift up feedback we have heard from students.

  • District and school leaders continue to meet with students individually and in large and small groups to listen to students’ concerns and how they think we can improve safety, school culture and our processes.
  • We have had separate meetings with the Bellingham Police Department and the Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF oversees Child Protective Services or CPS) to talk through and better align our reporting processes.
  • Our human resources department, safety staff and legal counsel are reviewing our materials, staff training and protocols to ensure we are supporting our staff with tools and information on how to respond to and manage student safety concerns.
  • We are working with survivor advocacy agencies, including Domestic Violence and Sexual Services (DVSAS) and Bellingham-Whatcom County Commission on Sexual & Domestic Violence on how to center our response and processes so that survivors are better supported. We are also talking with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and Seattle-based consultants who are leading work across the state in improving K-12 processes to provide trauma-informed, student-centered responses to sexual assault.

Budget planning for next school year

Based on what we are hearing from the governor and as the new legislative session is ramping up, it’s likely that many school districts, us included, will be facing a considerable budget challenge for next year, which could result in higher class sizes and/or loss of programs and/or support. You can see more information and context in the message I sent in December.  These next few months will be filled with brainstorming and planning, followed by decisions this spring once the legislature finishes their work, which is scheduled for the end of April.

Questions and Answers

We will be filming a Q&A next week to address questions we are hearing from you, whether about the topics above or anything else related to our district, and we want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to ask a question if they have one. You can submit a question or topic before noon Tuesday, Jan. 24 via this web form and will do our best to provide answers.

Thanks in advance for sending us your questions and ideas, and we will send another message when the Q&A is available to watch.

Greg Baker

 

Local resources

If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault or domestic violence, you can contact the following local resources for free, confidential support:

Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Services: 24-hour Help Line: 360-715-1563, Email: info@dvsas.org.

Lummi Victims of Crime: 360-312-2015.

Bellingham Police: You can call anonymously at 360-778-8611, or go online at cob.org/tips.

WWU Consultation and Sexual Assault Support Survivor Advocacy Services: 360-650-3700 or wp.wwu.edu/sexualviolence/.

Brigid Collins Family Support Center: 360-734-4616, brigidcollins.org.

Resources for talking with children about personal and relationship safety:

Talking with teens about healthy relationships

Talking to children about domestic violence