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School districts take steps to join violence prevention program
Say Something program launched after Sandy Hook shooting
FARMINGTON — School districts across San Juan County are continuing to work to enhance safety for students by participating in the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System.
Say Something is a free program that teaches middle and high school students how to look for warning signs, signals and threats — especially on social media — from individuals who may want to hurt themselves or others.
Students can help prevent violence by submitting information anonymously by using an app or a website, or by calling a 24/7 crisis line.
The prevention program was launched by Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit organization started by several family members who lost loved ones in the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Aztec Municipal School District Superintendent Kirk Carpenter said the program increases the collaboration between school districts to keep students safe.
Carpenter said the decision by his district to join Say Something is not solely in response to the Dec. 7 shooting at Aztec High School, adding the district had been looking for resources to enhance safety before the incident occurred.
"We may have been the lead on it, but we're not doing more than the other districts," Carpenter said.
After reviewing the outreach and training offered by Say Something, the districts agreed to participate, and each one is moving toward signing a memorandum of understanding for the program, he said.
Members of the Central Consolidated School District Board of Education did that when they approved the MOU on Tuesday.
"It's basically a program to roll out, to talk about violence before it happens," Shaka Rucker, the district's safety coordinator, said in a presentation to the school board.
As part of the program, each school will identify personnel to receive training by Say Something representatives in August, and the program will be in place by September, Rucker said.
Interim Superintendent Terri Benn said the program's focus is on students, but it also helps communities work together and coordinates with law enforcement officials.
"It's just a resource on top of what we have," Benn said.
Cheryl George, health and wellness specialist for the district, also informed board members that each school has a safety plan and a crisis team comprised of principals, counselors, teachers and personnel trained in first aid, CPR and crisis training prevention.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.