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Security Letter

Below is a letter from Dr. Fagan to the Douglas County community regarding school safety and security on January 13, 2014.

  Dear DCSD Parents:

I hope you had a nice holiday break.  I would like to take a minute to go over some important district safety information with you.  Thanks in advance for your time and attention to this important matter.

Standard Response Protocol

We have a plan known as the Standard Response Protocol (SRP) that we use in the event of an emergency.  This is the plan that is used at all DCSD schools and facilities. (Read the plan here 

Within that plan you will notice that there are two different safety protocols referred to as "Lockout" and "Lockdown." We have learned through various means that given the closeness of the two terms, there can be a bit of confusion about them.  

The following are definitions for our two most-used safety protocols.   Please keep in mind that we are somewhat limited regarding the details we can provide, as we don't want the "bad guys" to have access to our safety plans.

  1. Lockdown is a protocol used when there is "trouble" inside a building and we want to keep that "trouble" away from our students.  Lockdown was the response protocol that was used at Arapahoe High School during the active shooter situation, before winter break. 
  2. Lockout (secure perimeter) is a protocol used when there is perhaps "trouble" outside the building and we want to keep that "trouble" out of the building and away from our students.  Lockout is often used in precautionary situations.

I met with a few parents before winter break, and we discussed everything from changing the name "Lockout" to "Secure Perimeter," to stickers for phones, and magnets for the refrigerator.  Eventually, we came to consensus on a new safety button for our DCSD mobile app would be best.   

The safety button will be available on the DCSD mobile app next week.  If you haven't downloaded the app, you can get it for free at iTunes or Google Play .  The new safety button will have the names and definitions of each protocol used in DCSD.  It will also allow us to push information to your mobile phone in the event of an emergency.  We hope this mitigates some of the confusion regarding lockdown and lockout.

Even though we also discussed the challenges of two protocols with such similar names (lockout and lockdown) and the benefits of changing "Lockout" to "Secure Perimeter," we decided against making any change because "Lockout" and "Lockdown" are nationally known and recognized protocols.  We want to make sure that our communication with first responders, security, law enforcement and others is optimized through the use of common terminology and associated actions.  

You may recall that we have the first (and perhaps only) interoperability communication infrastructure in Colorado education.  This communication infrastructure allows our schools and all safety officials to communicate through their handheld radios without navigating different channels, etc.  Governor Hickenlooper was here in DCSD to launch and celebrate this improvement with us a few years ago.  This is one reason we use Standard Response Protocols, and we would not want to negate the benefit by causing confusion with an alternative name like "Secure Perimeter."

Automated Communications

We spent some time testing some of our emergency communication strategies over the winter break, as they did not perform to meet our expectations during the tragedy at Arapahoe High School in Littleton. 

The tests followed a series of system improvements, and the initial results were positive.  I would like to share the details with you, but once again, we do not want a potential "bad guy" to know how long it takes us to communicate to parents over a certain medium. The results of the tests performed met our expectations;  still, we are working on additional methods and improved speed.  We are always striving for more.  Safety is our top priority and we will continue to conduct periodic tests on various strategies.

As I have mentioned previously, we are employing a layered or scaffolding approach with regard to student and staff safety. We are also using a layered/scaffolding approach to emergency communications.  Communication strategies include email, text messages, phone calls, push information through our app, our website, and voicemails.  We are continually reviewing other opportunities as well. 

DCSD Emergency Communication Tools:

DCSD Website
Alerts posted on front page. No sign up required
Voice, Text & Email Messaging
Parent Portal
Alerts sent to families using contacts in Parent Portal. Guardians must opt in to which messages they want.
Constant Contact
Our newsletter tool is used to provide updates to parents.  Sign up at
DCSD Mobile App
App available for Android and iPhone
Push notifications are available via our app.
Visit our Facebook page and select ?friend? to receive updates in your news feed.
Visit our Twitter page and select the ?follow? option to receive our twitter feed.


Law Enforcement Partnership

From officers in our parking lots sharing our Wi-Fi and doing their reports, to marshals and school resource officers in our schools, to building enhancements and an extraordinary collaboration with our law enforcement partners, we have many safety strategies layered throughout our system. We are working on even more in our new 2014 Strategic Plan.  For example, our new strategies in psychological safety will further strengthen our safety system.

We believe that layering and scaffolding one great strategy on another is the strongest approach available to our staff and students.  We are doing this in the core safety structure and throughout our communications strategies, and we appreciate your partnership in this very important endeavor.

Click here to read more about the twelve safety strategies that we have incorporated over the last year.

School Safety Presentation and Forums

We are planning a board update and presentation regarding district safety for the January 21, 2014 board meeting.  I invite you to participate via our new, convenient live streaming.  If you are interested, you can tune in at  I believe this will provide a succinct overview and answer a lot of questions you may have on this topic.

In the coming months, we are also planning to offer regional safety forums for parents, students, staff, and more.  If you would like to have the opportunity to hear straight from our safety experts, please plan to attend one of these forums.

As I mentioned previously, there are some details that we cannot share, as unfortunately, in past school tragedies the "bad guy" was also a member of the school community. It is in the best interest of all staff and students that we keep certain details confidential. These include, but are not limited to, the following: specific evacuation sites, specific building enhancements, the numbers, regions, and schedules of our school marshals, and more. We will not be sharing these details in writing or at the forums.  Thank you in advance for your understanding on these items. 

We consider you, our staff, our community partners and our students to be our partners in student safety.  This partnership and our plan, in our view, provide the strongest safety plan in American education.

As a parent and the superintendent of children in Douglas County School District, I feel great comfort knowing that we have put together the most comprehensive safety plan of which I am aware.  We do not just say that safety is our number 1 priority - we model it.  As we develop our new Strategic Plan for 2014-2017, you will see safety prominently featured and fully built-out.  We look forward to your feedback on this and the many other ways we are leading the country in preparing our students to be college, career, and citizenship ready for the 21st century.

As always, please contact us with any questions or concerns. 


Liz Fagen