The Salem City School Division has a long and proven history of cherishing the great value this community places on children. This was a cornerstone of the division when it was established in 1983 and remains a core value for all who serve in Salem City’s Schools. On behalf of the over 500 employees who have answered the call to teach, lead, and serve the children of this City, I want to assure you that student safety is our number one priority. I have served in Salem City Schools for 25 years and know, without a doubt, that my own children are in the presence of people who would go to great lengths to ensure their safety at school and in our great community.
I understand the emotions that well up in all of us when our values, our sense of community, or our children are involved. However, we must recognize that what we want most (what is best for our children) may be incompatible with what we may want in the moment (confidential information about another parent’s child) to ease our concerns.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where individuals can purposefully disseminate false claims on a massive scale through social media with little or no accountability. Too often assumptions, hearsay, and opinions become treated as fact, or factual information is distorted or purposefully taken out of context. When this happens, trust that our extraordinary employees will go to great lengths to guide and protect the students they serve, but understand and respect that schools are prohibited from countering false claims by providing confidential information about a child. Please consider that this does not represent a lack of transparency, it represents a fierce adherence to do what is right for individual children over what may be politically expedient or even socially desirable at the moment.
One of the strengths of our school division is its size. We are large enough to have a computer-controlled plasma cutter in our welding program, multiple reading specialists in every elementary school, art, music, and extra-curricular programs that are beyond compare and an internationally benchmarked program of studies, but we are still small enough to know and care for one another as individuals. This also affords us the opportunity to respond to individual inquiries from parents and community stakeholders when they have questions or concerns about our schools.
Just as a wrench is the best tool for tightening a bolt, not a hammer, social media is a handy tool for connecting with friends, sharing pictures, and making general announcements, but not the best tool for the job of getting accurate answers to questions or constructively addressing concerns. If you have a question or concern involving your child’s school, please call or email your child’s teacher or principal. The Salem City School Board has a proven and longstanding approach to expecting that questions or concerns be addressed as close to the source as possible to provide a prompt and accurate resolution. (To learn more please our online Questions or Concerns resource.) We have also established guidelines regarding when we will and will not use our mass notification system. (To learn more about this communication tool, please see our Communication Practices and Procedures FAQ.)
As a community that has established and built one of the finest school divisions anywhere, we must be ready to defend it from unfounded speculation while understanding the just and necessary limits of information sharing in matters that involve children. Trust that the people who serve our children on a daily basis will go to great lengths to guide and protect them and demonstrate that trust through your individual commitment to contact your child’s teacher or principal if you have questions or concerns about something that happens at school or in conjunction with a school event.
Bless you and thank you all for being a part of this truly special place to live, work, and raise our families.
H. Alan Seibert