• Tuesday, January 24, 2023

    Dear D11 Families and Community,

    Over the past several days, our news feeds have reminded us of the real threats in our society. School shootings, mass shootings in public settings, social media threats, and more have impacted the lives of far too many. I know you’ve heard this message before, but in THE Colorado Springs School District 11, any threat to student and staff safety is taken extremely seriously.

    Yesterday’s social media threat that spread through several area high schools was no exception. This particular threat to our children's and educators' lives caused great concern for you as parents and took away valuable hours in the classroom. Not only did this incident cause learning loss for many students, but it also involved extra hours of investigation for our D11 security teams, the Colorado Springs Police Department, and the FBI. This investigation is still ongoing, and we are devoted to finding the source of the threat.

    The deeper conversation on what compels our students to make these threats, either maliciously or as a manifestation of existing mental health or social pressures, is also worth discussing. Some students may think of this as a prank, but this is not a joke. It doesn’t matter if they say it, text it, write it, snap it or post it on social media; students who make threats can face serious consequences through our discipline processes and law enforcement.

    If your student is suffering from challenges that make these threats real, we are here to help. The school counselors in D11 support all students with guidance, resources, and responsive services. You may access more information on D11 counseling offices here.

    We take every measure to protect our schools while we work with law enforcement to identify the person or people making such threats. I’m asking families to have a serious discussion with your students about this alarming trend and help us stop it. Our schools are safe havens, and we must continue providing the best instruction possible.

    As always, anyone is encouraged to report anything suspicious to our partners at www.safe2tell.org or by calling them at 1-877-542-7233. Other family resources include information on the D11 Student Success and Wellness page and state and national sites such as www.kidshealth.org (Teaching Kids to Be Smart About Social Media), Children’s Hospital Colorado, and www.internetmatters.org.

    Finally, I understand there were communication challenges for some families. We are evaluating the technology failures that impacted our ability to reach parents and the community with the vital information that the school was safe and that the threat was not deemed credible. Aside from the social media posts and Loop notifications via email, text, and the D11 app, we will add an alert to the impacted school's website when critical messages like this are sent. This step will allow families multiple methods to receive critical notifications.

    Thank you for partnering with us to keep our children and staff safe.

    Respectfully,

    Michael Gaal, Superintendent
    THE Colorado Springs School District 11