Robbinsdale Superintendent on Response to Alleged Gun Incidents: ‘I Know We Need To Improve’
Monday evening outside of Sandburg Middle School in Golden Valley, soon-to-be Robbinsdale School Board Member Kim Holmes stood outside as classes let out. She did so while holding up a sign, making a plea for safer schools.
“We are going through some very rough times throughout the district in our schools, and asking for safe learning and working environments,” said Holmes, who will be sworn-in as a school board member in January. “It’s not that big of an ask. It shouldn’t be that hard.”
Last week, both Sandburg and Robbinsdale Middle Schools experienced separate incidents where guns were believed to have been brought into the schools.
Parents and law enforcement say they weren’t immediately notified about the threat.
“I don’t think they could have handled it any worse,” Holmes said. “The lack of transparency, the lack of communication to staff, to family members, to students. How can somebody grapple with this issue? It’s being talked about on social media. Nobody should have to do this alone.”
Robbinsdale District vows to do better
District officials say they never found any weapons on school property during their investigations, but during Monday’s school board meeting, the district superintendent acknowledged that they could have handled the situations better.
“I know we need to improve how we respond to threats and allegations,” said Superintendent David Engstrom of Robbinsdale Area Schools. “The Robbinsdale Area Schools is now actively reviewing and revising our procedures, our processes and our practices for responding to allegations, threats and images; whether they are shared directly with the school or with the district or social media.”
It’s a pledge that students, families and staff members hope will lead to a better process going forward.
“We will cooperate with the police in any incident that involves an immediate threat,” Engstrom said. “Can we do better? Yes. And we will.”
Meanwhile, Tuesday afternoon, Robbinsdale School Board Chair Helen Bassett released this statement:
During last night’s School Board meeting and community listening session, families and staff made their voices heard loud and clear. We take their concerns seriously, and we share them. On behalf of the school board, we apologize for the anxiety this entire situation caused for so many.
During the closed session meeting, the Board of Education discussed the weapon-related incidents and how we could have responded better. It was a productive discussion, and set the board on a clear path forward.
Specifically, the Board of Education and district administrators have identified policies, practices and procedures that need review and clarification. This work was already underway and will continue.
The board and administration commit to a review process that leads to continuous improvement related to school safety. The review process will provide data that will be an important base for updates provided to our staff and to the community, going forward.
We are assured that district administrators will notify police immediately when there’s a report or suspicion of a gun, either at school or in the possession of a student. The district will also communicate with families and staff immediately about incidents involving guns.
The safety of students and staff will always be our highest priority.