Public safety workers will be at Arlington public schools over the next few weeks – there for intruder safety drills.

The annual training drill began a couple of years ago after the state urged all public schools to put plans in place to deal with threats following the Sandy Hook school shooting. After public discussion, Arlington schools adopted the national program called ALICE. It teaches staff and students to be alert, lock-down, inform, counter, and evacuate as appropriate. School officials emphasize students will always know it is only a drill and that the word gun, weapon or knife will never be used.

More information and a discussion with school and police regarding the training is available on our website acmi.tv/news.

ALICE: Alert; Lockdown; Inform; Counter and Evacuate

Arlington public schools continue to address areas deemed non-compliant by the state. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education filed its review of Arlington public schools in June pointing out over a dozen issues related to special education, civil rights and english language learners.

School committee members received an update from assistant superintendent Roderick MacNeil on the efforts being made to correct civil rights deficiencies. A review of student handbooks indicated that the schools’ non-discrimination policy affirming non-tolerance for harassment does not address sex or gender identity as protected categories. The school department has already completed the required changes to its behavior support and restraint prevention policy, and is making progress in all areas, including offering on line document translation tools. MacNeil expressed confidence in the teachers and the process. The school’s corrective actions must be completed and filed with the state by June of 2018 – with progress reports due on November 1 and March 1.

Link to Arlington Public Schools response to Department of Education Civil Rights Audit.

The school committee also heard from parents of kindergartners who say teaching assistants in that grade should be full time in response to growing class sizes – more than half of kindergarten classes now have between 20 to 25 students. Both teachers and parents see the need for more help in the classroom. Additional staff funding has gone to the budget committee. Any changes must then be taken up by the full board.