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Safety and security of students and staff is foremost concern

Dr. Ellis congratulating students at a recent Board of Education Meeting at Kensington Elementary School.

Dear Parents, Staff, and Community Members,

It is with a heavy heart that I write this letter. The tragedy of the lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut breaks my heart. As I mourn those students and staff who passed away, my full attention is on the students in our system. In the Union County Public Schools system, the safety and security of our students and staff is our foremost concern.

Our school system works closely with the Union County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies throughout the county. I have personally spoken with Union County Sheriff, Eddie Cathey this weekend. Our team has also spoken with the Union County law enforcement agency leaders/liaisons in our municipalities as we prepare for the upcoming week and review our existing safety plans.

The agency leaders/liaisons we are working with are as follows:

Sheriff Eddie Cathey- Union County Sheriff’s Office
Major Bryan Gilliard- Monroe Police Dept.
Chief Carl Webber-Marshville Police Dept.
Chief Barry Glass- Wingate Police Dept.
Chief Minor Plyler-Stallings Police Dept.
Chief Mike Eiss- Waxhaw Police Dept.
First Sgt. Mark Leach - NC State Highway Patrol

Working with our School Board Chair Mr. Richard Yercheck, Board of Education Facilities Chair Mr. Kevin Stewart, and other members of the School Board, we have reviewed our current plans and the upcoming process we will use to re-evaluate them.

Again, the safety and security of our students and staff is our foremost concern. Each of our 53 schools has a safety plan in place that includes building access procedures while students are in the building. At a minimum, the plans include a requirement that every visitor sign-in in the office and present a photo ID, if the office staff does not know the person. Additionally, all classroom doors are kept locked throughout the day.

Training in school safety for school staff is ongoing. Yearly, UCPS teachers participate in the Critical Incident training provided by the NC Attorney General’s Office. The students and staff of each school participate in regular lockdown drills. Law Enforcement assists with these lockdown drills and then meets with school staff afterwards to discuss process improvement.

All School Resource Officers also receive regular training on school emergencies and attend specialized training on school shootings. The Union County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team has trained on our school campuses. UCPS safety plans are routinely reviewed by law enforcement.

As a mother and a grandmother, I cannot fathom the pain that has been visited upon the Newtown community. While we remember them in our thoughts and prayers, we will also be diligent to provide for the safety and security of our students and staff.

If you have any questions with regards to the safety procedures of your child’s school, please contact the principal.


Mary Ellis

Written by: Dr. Mary Ellis, Superintendent
Posted: Dec 16, 2012 by Rob Jackson

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