Print Close This Window

From the Superintendent's Desk: Uvalde, Texas Tragedy

Following the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, Superintendent James Sotlar shares resources for families to help their children cope and provides information about safety, security and mental health services at CW Schools.

Dear Canal Winchester Schools Community, 

  As you may have seen, a terrible tragedy took place in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday, May 24. Multiple students and teachers lost their lives in a senseless act of violence at Robb Elementary School. Our hearts are broken for the Uvalde community. 

  As educators, we are fortunate to know first-hand the vibrant and caring communities that form around schools. Losing even one member of a school community is devastating; the magnitude of what the Robb Elementary community is facing is unthinkable.  

  We know that these events are not only agonizing and painful but can also create fear and anxiety. It can be difficult to know how to talk to children about tragedies like this. As you process these events, please remember that in Canal Winchester Schools, we are all part of the same community. If you or your child needs support or assistance, please contact our buildings to let us know. We also wanted to share some resources for families as they approach these difficult conversations. 

  At Canal Winchester Schools, our mission is to empower all students for success. As I reflect on this mission following Tuesday’s tragedy, I am reminded that before we can empower students, we must make sure that they feel safe, cared for, and important in our school communities. We continuously evaluate our safety, security, and mental health services and procedures to ensure we are taking proactive steps to keep all students and staff safe. A few of the measures in place include: 

  • All doors are locked during the school day. Visitors can only enter through the main entrance, which is equipped with remote entry and a double vestibule and visitors must show an ID to enter.  

  • All staff members receive safety and security training, including ALICE training, an active shooter training solution and preparedness education program. 

  • We have a full-time School Resource Officer, Deputy Mike Myers from the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office. We collaborate with the Sheriff’s Office to address safety matters on an ongoing basis and are grateful for their support and care for our students and staff. 

  • Safety concerns can be reported anonymously at any time on our website via the Stay Safe! Speak Up. feature. These reports are monitored 24/7 by PublicSchoolWorks and an immediate alert is sent to a Canal Winchester Schools team member for any significant report made, no matter the time of day. 

  • Each building has staff members who are trained in threat assessment to provide an evidence-based, comprehensive intervention with students when threats or concerns are reported. 

  • Each building has assigned mental health specialists (previously called behavior specialists) who are Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors. We also have a district social worker, Kim Vojacek, LISW, to provide additional support for students and families, and school counselors at each building.

  • Through a formal partnership with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor is assigned to each of our four buildings full-time. We also partner with colleges and universities to have mental health interns in our schools. 

  As we look ahead to the 2022-2023 school year, we will be re-training all staff members in ALICE. We have hired a full-time behavior analyst to assist teachers, administrators, and staff with student behaviors, and a student safety specialist at Canal Winchester Middle School who will provide safety and security support. 

  I want to assure all families that the safety of your students matters deeply to our teachers, staff, and leaders, and we will continue to take seriously our responsibility to keep our schools safe for all students and staff.  

  Our hearts are with the entire Robb Elementary and Uvalde, Texas community. They are also with you and your family, and we are here to help if you need us. 


Thank you, 

James Sotlar 

Superintendent 

Canal Winchester Schools 

Posted Thursday, May 26, 2022