Robb Elementary: School Shootings Must Stop

DPSCD Staff, Students, and Families,

Our hearts are heavy this morning as another senseless and tragic school shooting occurred late yesterday afternoon, taking the lives of innocent young children and school staff in a Texas community. Like you, I am tired of hearing breaking news about mass shootings in this country. As Superintendent, it is both exhausting  and frustrating to find different words to say the same thing to you after each one of these events, especially as they relate to school. Our counselors and teachers are encouraged to discuss the tragedy if students want to discuss it. We will provide them with resources through our Hub. Unfortunately, they are beginning to learn to talk through these events. I have added a quick reference sheet (below) to assist everyone in talking to students about violence at the end of this message.

Nothing is more important than keeping our students safe in our schools. Since I have been Superintendent in our school district, I have never learned of any legitimate plot or plan by a student or staff member to harm our students or staff as we have seen with these repeated mass shootings. However, we remain vigilant and prepared by revisiting our active shooter plans, increasing our security guard allocations, investing in remote entry lock systems for schools, expanding investment in camera systems, increasing random searches, improving our systems of communication and follow up for threats made by staff, families, or employees, and increasing the number of district sworn police officers who work the day and afternoon shift to support our schools.

Yet, despite those security commitments or ensuring that more officers visit our schools today and the upcoming weeks I will reiterate that the best way to prevent violence or in this case, mass shootings, is to know our students and continue our investment, access, and understanding of mental health or student wellness. All of our schools now have direct access to mental health support but we must pay attention to the warning signs, which include, anger, isolation, threats, violence, depression, and recent and past traumatic events.

Families, you must stay present in your children’s lives. Who are your child’s friends? What are they doing on their phones and on social media? Do they have access to a gun? What is happening in their lives? Are they angry? Sad? Depressed? Do you know their teachers? Their grades? What are they frustrated about? What are their goals? What do they do before and after school? Are they sleeping enough? And, are you asking us (the school system) to help you, if necessary? We are here to help you. Families, please, if requested by the school, please give your permission to work with your children if they have been recommended for mental health support. As a district, we will talk much more about this process to reduce the stigma associated with it. However, in the meantime, do not hesitate to ask your child’s school for more assistance with your child’s well-being.

Please know that we will continue to report to all staff and families if we uncover a weapon at school or if there is a legitimate threat made against the school community. It is normal to be afraid right now and to feel insecure but let’s not turn against each other as a product of that fear and anxiety. Instead, let us continue to focus on what is most important: our children. We are a DPSCD community that shares a common purpose: to love, care, challenge, prepare, encourage, and protect our students. To do that—we must build genuine relationships with them!!!

With love,
Nikolai. P. Vitti, EdD
​​​​​​​Detroit Public Schools Community District