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We take student safety and security extremely seriously at Portland Public Schools, and are always looking at ways we can prepare and improve.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Guadalupe GuerreroIn a recent edition, the Portland Tribune published a front-page story headlined, "Portland schools not upgrading security." It was accompanied by a photo of an emergency vehicle from a tragic event at Reynolds School District.

The headline, the photo and the story are highly misleading, and caused unnecessary alarm to our students, families and staff. The story paints an inaccurate and incomplete picture of our efforts to make our schools safe and welcoming places for our students to learn. I would like to counter some of the misinformation that was in the story.

We take student safety and security extremely seriously at Portland Public Schools, and are always looking at ways we can prepare and improve. As the article itself points out, we already are taking steps toward better security, and we have more planned.

Here are ways in which we are upgrading security at PPS:

• We are close to signing a memorandum of understanding with the Portland Police Bureau that will place armed School Resource Officers in more schools on more days. This represents a significant security upgrade.

• We changed the reporting structure of our campus security agents for more direct communications with our security department.

• We proactively hired an outside consulting agency to assess security at our schools. They have made recommendations for improvements, which we will start implementing this year.

On top of this, we are in the initial phase of spending the $5 million in bond funds targeted for security, such as strengthening school building access, including providing security intercoms, access control and improved signage.

Here are some security measures we already have in place:

• All staff are required to take annual student safety training, which includes knowledge of building lockdowns and lockouts, building evacuations, and other procedures designed to keep students safe in the case of an emergency.

• All staff wear ID badges, and visitors are required to sign in at the main office.

• Many schools have camera surveillance and buzzer-activated front door access.

For the Tribune to state that we are not upgrading security at PPS is simply not correct. We are working every day to improve the security of our schools because we believe the safety of our students is our highest priority and responsibility.

To publish such a misleading story and headline does an extreme disservice not only to our students, families and staff, but to the broader community as well. Your readers deserve more fair and accurate reporting.

Guadalupe Guerrero is the Superintendent of Portland Public Schools


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