Patapsco Students, Guardians, and Friends,
Fun fact: when I was in college, one of the dozens of jobs I worked to pay the bills was at a police department. Though I had no interest in pursuing a career in criminal justice, I learned a lot about policing and the important role public safety organizations play in our neighborhoods during my two years with the department. I learned about something called Community Policing. This is a philosophy held by law enforcement agencies that promotes the development of pro-active, intentional, and collaborative relationships between the department and the community. The roots of this practice date back to the 1960’s. Given the chronicle of events over the last several years - both nationally as well as right here in our backyard - I am pleased our school system and the Howard County Police Department are formalizing the long-standing practice of Community Policing in our schools through regular visits.
At the very least, the presence of police officers as mentors in our buildings make them a critical part of the safety of our school environment. Optimally, staff and students will be afforded the opportunity to build positive relationships with members of the police department. Further, officers will become familiar with the floor plan of our school facility. This advantage will serve us well in the event of an emergency. The last thing we need is our first responders getting lost looking for the ‘D’ hallway, for example. [Pretty sure anyone who’s been here can relate to that!]
We have already had three officers visit us here at Patapsco in the past week. Each visit entailed a tour of the building in the company of a building administrator. While here, the goal is to establish positive relationships. Officers are not coming to our building to assist in student discipline or to identify undocumented citizens. If, at any time, a student or guardian feels there has been an incident that is contrary to our goals of promoting a positive community policing partnership, I ask that you contact me or any staff member immediately.
Some parents have asked ‘why now’? Well, a review of the headlines of the last month or so should make that pretty obvious. We are all doing our absolute best to ensure our school is a place where children feels safe so they can learn. This morning, I read an article by Evie Blad of ‘Education Week’ that summarized the contents of an annual report released on Thursday by the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Indicators of School Crime and Safety 2017.” I haven’t managed to dive deeply into the full report, but I can tell you this act of formalizing our relationship with the HCPD is completely in line with the recommendations of this joint report.
In other news, we held our annual Career Day today and, as always we were overwhelmed by the number of community members who generously donated their time to talk about the vast career possibilities that await our students. We cannot thank these valued volunteers enough for giving their time to share their passion. Later today we will post photographs on our Facebook page. You should check them out!
We hope you will all enjoy the Spring Pause (since it’s a bit less than the break we thought we were going to get). We recognize some of you may have made plans that could not be altered, but instruction will continue here at Patapsco on April 4-6. As always, we require a written note from a parent/guardian within two school days of the absence, or the missed days will be recorded as unexcused. A parent may exercise their discretion to request student absences up to three (3) days per school year. The school’s obligation is to encourage good attendance and to inform the student and family of the anticipated consequences of absences due to personal or family business. Discretionary/Extended absence forms are available in Student Services as well as on our website and ideally should be submitted at least two weeks in advance of planned absences. All work provided prior to the absence is to be turned in upon the student’s return to school. If you are planning to hold your student out from school next week, and haven’t sent in this form, it’s not too late! Please follow the link, download and complete the form today, then send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you after the Pause!
Cindy Dillon, Principal