SUSD School Safety and Security
9/28/2022 5:58 pm
May 26, 2022
Dear SUSD Families,
At a time when families should be celebrating their students’ achievements and all that they are
able to achieve by being a part of the Scottsdale school system, we find ourselves again stunned
and heartbroken by the horrific violence that has rocked yet another American community and
The tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas earlier this week is deeply troubling. The loss of
innocent lives at a place where students and staff should be free of the fear of violence
undermines the very fabric of community. While we learn more information each day regarding the
shooter and how he was able to access that school location, schools across the nation, including
SUSD, are reviewing security and safety protocols to ensure appropriate measures are in place to
reduce the risk of a similar situation happening here.
School Safety – Our Number One Priority
Please know that the safety of our students and staff is always – always – our top priority. The
placement of school resource officers, school counselors and school social workers on SUSD school
campuses is only part of our approach to achieve and maintain safe, supportive schools.
As threats evolve, so do our campuses. When you approved the 2016 Bond, you provided the funding to
upgrade school security, and create secure, single-entry points of access during the school day
through front offices. These improvements give each school control over who is allowed on campus
and have included:
• Front office/school lobby renovations
• New door hardware
• Additional/upgraded fencing
• Security cameras
• Automatic alert buttons
• Upgraded alarm systems
Additionally, Scottsdale Unified School District is a leader in the state when it comes to threat
assessments, suicidal ideation assessments and interventions. During the summer, we will automate
the process we use to ensure the ability to communicate critical information to key staff and law
enforcement officials in a timely and seamless manner. The procurement of this online tool was
completed several months ago, before this shooting, because we are deeply committed to student and
staff safety and well-being.
Opportunities for improvement
Well-intentioned people, including parents and volunteers, often seek access to our campus for
constructive purposes (e.g. watering a community garden). However, the more people who have keys to
our facilities, the less secure we are overall. Districts have the unique challenge of maintaining
a safe campus while also creating a welcoming learning environment and the opportunity for parents
to contribute to it.
During the pandemic, we significantly restricted the number of visitors and volunteers on our campus, and we heard from many parents about how much they valued the opportunity to be on-site. This continues to be an area where we must manage expectations in order to ensure that there are no breakdowns in our security protocols. Sometimes people prop open doors or gates, out of convenience, but each time this happens, our campuses become more vulnerable. To maintain safe environments, we need everyone working together, in concert. That begins with all students and staff wearing their ID/badges at all times while on campus and all visitors signing in at the front office.
Social media monitoring is not something we have the ability to do universally, although the Scottsdale Police Department (SPD), Phoenix Police Department, along with vigilant parents and students, often report concerns based on what they’ve seen there, which we take exceedingly seriously.
Recent Arcadia High School Situation – “See Something, Say Something”
Oftentimes, students are the first to become aware of a threat, and that is why we encourage them to take what they see and hear seriously and report any perceived threat or suspicious activity to a school administrator. It is what we call “See Something, Say Something.” An illustration of how that and other security protocols work together includes an incident that took place at Arcadia High School just last week. Two students reported that another student might have brought a gun to school that day. The principal and School Resource Officer located the student and, as a precaution, placed the campus on lockdown. The student was brought to the office and was determined to be in possession of a weapon. The student informed police and administrators that he had the weapon in response to off-campus concerns. There was no direct threat to students or staff at Arcadia. Regardless, additional Phoenix Police officers responded and the student was taken into custody. We are grateful to the students who reported their concern and thankful for the way Arcadia’s staff and security personnel responded to ensure the safety of all on campus.
Our students and staff regularly practice lockdown drills and review security protocols in order to be prepared. Those exercises are not and will not be published widely in order to prevent “bad actors” from attempting to circumvent our school security plans and systems.
We work closely with SPD, including providing opportunities for active shooter training at school locations for law enforcement officials while students are not present. We have security personnel at our campuses, and School Resource Officers are assigned to middle and high schools in each learning community, covering elementary schools, as needed. However, we have struggled in the same way law enforcement has to fill all open security positions. We will continue to work to recruit and retain the best personnel to keep our schools safe.
Also, we will continue to flag areas for improvement and during the course of this summer, will conduct additional reviews with SPD to make sure that when students return to our schools in August that we have done everything we can to ensure that they return to a safe learning environment.
You are part of the school safety equation, as well. Do you have information about a threat or school safety risk? Notify any SUSD employee or School Resource Officer immediately, or call the Silent Witness Tip Line at 480-WITNESS (948-6377). You can also Submit a Tip Online.
For more information on SUSD school safety and Support Services, please visit our website.
Thank you for your concern on this issue and know that it is ours, as well.
Scott A. Menzel, PhD Superintendent