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The following was sent to Framingham High staff & families.


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I recognize that I cannot even begin to fully comprehend the trauma that has consumed you since the activation of the active shooter/gunshot detection alarm at Framingham High School last Friday. I am haunted by the voices of those who have reached out to me with their experiences and the images of our students and staff in the face of unbelievable distress.

Over the last week, I have reviewed video footage from hallway cameras, talked with students and caregivers as they came to Framingham High School for counseling support, and engaged in a variety of structured, post-event debriefing meetings with administrators and first responders as well as incidental conversations with teachers and support staff who were present at the high school this week.

None of these efforts to fully understand the crisis, however, could ever compare with being immersed in the situation as you all were last week and I want to first acknowledge that in this communication. I want to acknowledge that, despite the terror that must have overwhelmed you, your commitment to the students in your care, likely powered by a mix of adrenaline and love, was and continues to be amazing.

From the outward appearance of calm, yet in the face of crisis as revealed in the camera footage, to the personal emails that staff sent to their students to both check-in and acknowledge their bravery and actions, to the actions by students themselves to help one another, the FHS community was unified in an astonishing commitment to our children and one another.

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And while the priority has been to provide the necessary counseling support for our students and staff in the aftermath of last Friday’s events, we have simultaneously prioritized an internal investigation of what caused the alarm activation in the first place and what action steps are needed to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.

Below is a summary of the FPS investigative findings and planned actions:

  1. The EAGL Gunshot Detection System (“EAGL System”), initially installed at Framingham High School (FHS) using state safety grant monies in 2019, was a planned school safety component to be integrated into the district safety and security protocols, along with the Raptor Visitor Management System and the rollout of the FPS Code of Character, Conduct, and Support (“Code”). While the Visitor Management System and Code are established, the introduction to and the training for the EAGL System was the next planned step in the process. As a result, on February 17, the FHS administration, staff and students were not familiar with the automated system alarm sounds and the Public Address (“PA”) system features of the gunshot detection system.
  2. In anticipation of a planned system test and training at FHS during the 2023 February Vacation, the EAGL System asked the FPS Safety and Security Department to replace batteries on two of the nine units that were initially installed. As a result of conversations among the EAGL System, the FPS Safety and Security Department, and IT staff on January 16, 2023, FPS understood and reaffirmed the System to be inactive. However, that proved not to be the case since changing the second battery set off the active shooter/gunshot detection alarm.
  3. The above noted chain of events led to the incident that occurred on Friday, February 17, 2023, and which led to localized classroom and office lockdowns and the broader building evacuation, all of which were consistent with A.L.I.C.E (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) protocols. While on site on February 17, the Framingham Police Department affirmed that FHS staff and students followed the protocols of the A.L.I.C.E. training. To date, most FPS staff have been trained in A.L.I.C.E., and the student training and parent/caregiver information sessions were planned for Spring 2023. Dr. Gerade will communicate with all staff to assess and identify who is missing tools (e.g., door straps, pegs, etc.) to effectively engage in A.L.I.C.E.
  4. The next steps in the A.L.I.C.E. protocol rollout is a collaborative effort across multiple district and municipal departments, including thoughtfully crafted lessons to appropriately address various age groupings of students with key information about procedures and lessons shared with families. In consideration of the February 17 incident, such training at FHS will be intentional, trauma-informed, and communicated well in advance to staff, students, and families.
  5. FPS has an established practice and expectation that any alarm-related system maintenance be done after school hours. The battery replacement in the EAGL System, though understood to be inactive, should never have taken place during school hours. Further, school and district level administrators were not informed that any System maintenance was taking place at FHS; consequently, the Office of Human Resources is following established protocols and procedures to address this personnel matter. We recognize that the impact of that decision has shaken our community, created unnecessary trauma, and eroded trust in ways that will be challenging to regain.
  6. The outdated PA system at FHS proved to be problematic as announcements, especially the false alarm “All Clear” announcement, could not be heard in various locations throughout the school. As a result of this incident, the PA system at FHS has been prioritized for upgrade, and initial work has already begun immediately following the incident.
  7. There was a significant delay in notifying the FHS staff, students, and families via school and district communication tools that the alarm was a false alarm, which resulted in local media and other schools in the district being aware that the alarm was false before the FHS community was informed. This was an unprecedented situation that revealed major gaps in our communication protocols as a district, which resulted in unnecessary angst and extreme strain for our entire community; this was inexcusable, and the Office of Human Resources is following established protocols and procedures to address this personnel matter. Fixing this communication chain of command is a district priority. In addition, training on the use of the Blackboard Mass Notifications (“BMN”) system will be extended to ensure timely communications through multiple modes of communication (e.g., email, text, automated telephone call) and by multiple users.
  8. Despite our plans to schedule an emergency early release for students on February 17, 2023, we were unable to secure enough school bus drivers to accommodate the number of students seeking emergency bus transportation. Bus drivers are part time employees who were not yet expected to report to their afternoon shift, which impeded our ability to take this appropriate action for our students.

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In planning for the return to school following February Vacation, members of the Central Administration team have been working with the FHS Administration to support plans for a restorative return to school. In a forthcoming communication, Dr. Gerade will be providing the specific details about the structure of the return to school on Monday. The focus of this first week back will be on restoration and returning to a routine that is familiar to students and staff. With that being said, flexibility will be key to allow students and staff to process the events that transpired. We are asking that there be an emphasis on community building and an easing into academics for the first week back.

Should staff require additional counseling support beyond what is being provided at FHS by our skilled staff and our external partners, I invite you to contact the Framingham Public Schools Employee Assistance Program at (844) 263-1982. Also, should staff need to take advantage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), please reach out to the Office of Human Resources for assistance.

Our district leadership team stands with you, our students, and the entire FHS school community as we provide accountability while working to heal from this traumatic experience and, most importantly, making corrective actions to move forward, and owning and learning from our mistakes. On behalf of the entire FPS District Leadership Team, I am very sorry for all that has transpired. We can and will do better.

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By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.