After the 1999 tragedy at Columbine High School, the Cherry Creek School District established the Care Line (720-554-2273 or firstname.lastname@example.org
) as part of its ongoing school safety efforts, which emphasize the importance of prevention, positive school climate, and physical and psychological safety measures.
“Nothing is more important than the safety of our students, our staff members, and our families,” said Superintendent Mary Chesley. “The academic excellence that exists in our district stems from the fact that people are safe and feel safe in our schools, allowing them to focus on teaching and learning.”
In the past 12 years, the Care Line has been used by many students, parents and community members to report potentially dangerous behavior or unsafe situations. Reports can be made anonymously.
Last year, about one-third of Care Line calls or emails involved conflict situations. Another third were related to suicidal thoughts or behaviors and the final third related to a variety of issues including drugs/alcohol, potential cyber crimes, threats and weapons.
To increase awareness of the Care Line, the district used funds from a Safe and Drug Free Schools grant to create posters, magnets, stickers and business cards highlighting the Care Line.
“We want students, parents and community members to know this resource is available to them,” said Dr. Scott Siegfried, Assistant Superintendent, Educational Support Services. “We encourage them to share concerns directly with an administrator, teacher or counselor in a face-to-face manner, if possible. However, we know there are times when they may not feel comfortable doing that and want an anonymous reporting option.”
Director of Safety and Security, Randy Councell said it’s also important to know when to call 911 instead of the Care Line. “In an emergency or life and death situation, call 911, not the Care Line.”
When a call or email comes in to the Care Line, a team of district administrators and safety and security personnel are alerted to the message and read the email or listen to the phone call. The situation is investigated in a variety of ways depending upon the nature of the information.
For instance, if the reporting party leaves contact information, safety and security will call them back to obtain any additional pertinent information. Local authorities may be asked to conduct a welfare check. Parents and the principal of any involved school may also be contacted. District mental health experts and the crisis response team also become involved if needed.
“The Care Line is an important part of our comprehensive commitment to safe, respectful and inclusive learning environments,” said Janise McNally, Wellness Coordinator for Cherry Creek Schools. “It’s another way we can work together to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students, staff, families and community.”