December 17, 2012 (posted on the District Home Page)
Dear Ojai Unified School District Families and Staff,
In response to the horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday, you will receive a communication from your school principal before January 2nd, our first day back from Winter Break. In the period before then, our school leaders feel it is very important to provide parents and school children with significant information about dealing with the emotional side of the mass shooting. Please feel free to contact the resources listed below which have been provided by one of our District counselors.
The California Department of Education Coping with Tragedy Web site includes links to articles concerning talking with children about violence and helping them deal with tragic events. Links to these resources and more are located at "http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ss/cp/tragedy.asp.
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) is also an excellent resource. The organization's Web site can be accessed at "http://www.nasponline.org/.
Superintendent of Schools
December 22, 2012
Good morning; this is Dr. Hank Bangser, superintendent of the Ojai Unified School District. I am sending today's message to all District students and their parents in response to the horrific murders in Newtown, Connecticut on our last day of school in 2012. There are no words I can offer to capture the outrage I felt - and I'm certain all of you felt - this past week.
Before our students return to school on Wednesday, January 2nd, you will receive a communication from your principal addressing a number of issues related to school safety. After schools reopen, our staff members will review all procedures we have in place to maximize the safety of our students and staff. After those discussions, I will meet with the principals to determine what we can most appropriately do to increase that security. Any changes will be communicated to you immediately.
In the meantime, I wish you the happiest of holidays and a joyous new year.
January 7, 2013
Dear Ojai Unified School District Constituents,
Presented below is an excerpt from an e-mail I sent to District staff members today. Each principal will continue to keep the school community informed about our efforts to enhance school safety for the students and staff.
Thank you for your outstanding contributions during the three days of school last week as we began to address the host of issues under the heading of school safety. Late on Thursday afternoon, Sergeant Steve Arthur from the Ojai station of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office joined all school leaders and several other critical District personnel to discuss the unique safety challenges which we face in our schools. Steve reviewed his extensive experience working directly with schools throughout the County. Responding to an initiative from Ojai Police Capt. Dave Kenney immediately after the Newtown murders, Steve has now coordinated a new program which includes regular school visits from his deputies. We have had a school resource officer at Nordhoff for many years although the deployment has been significantly reduced due to budget constraints since 2010.
The focus of this police effort is two-fold.
1) The deputy will assist each principal and staff as our school safety plans are enhanced. These efforts will be tailored to the geography and logistics of each school. There is no "one fits all" here.
2) The deputy will not be posted at the front gate to patrol but will be in the school about once each week for a part of the day. The deputy will develop a relationship with staff and students, hopefully to emerge as a real confidant on a variety of matters.
We truly appreciate this offer from the leadership of our local police department who constructed the program without any additional staff time (i.e., reorganized priorities to help us).
In the upcoming months, Steve, his staff, Danni Pusatere, Eric Ordway, all principals and I will analyze the tens of suggestions and recommendations which emanated from the meetings and/or conversations between the principal and staff of each school last week. Some improvements we can and will do immediately; some we will not be able to afford.
Joining this team will be Tom Rendulic who will officially start as our District Director of Maintenance, Operations and Transportation on February 1, the day after Eric retires. I will tell you more about Tom as the end of this month approaches. At this juncture, please know that his qualifications are exemplary, having served in leadership roles in the U.S. Navy in all three components of Eric's position. Tom is retiring from the Navy after a 22-year career.