From the desk of Dr. Kirk Lewis

Updates from the Superintendent

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Running the Reds

The flashing red lights of the bus had been blinking for 15 seconds. The side-arm stop sign had been deployed. Students exited the school bus excited about the beginning of the school day and eager to get to campus to see their friends. Not all of them were paying close attention. As the children were preparing to cross the street under the “safety” of the red lights of the bus, three cars whizzed around the stationary bus. Two seconds later and the students would have been walking in the path of danger.

Several weeks ago, the Pasadena ISD Transportation Department embarked on a three-day study to count the number of vehicles that “ran the reds” on the more than 250 buses crisscrossing the district on any given day. Approximately 150 buses filed a report each day of that three-day period.  An average of 641 vehicles failed to stop as required by law when the red lights were flashing.  The red lights flash when the bus is loading or unloading children at a bus stop. Think of the number of children and young people placed at risk when we disregard the reds.

We may be late for work or trying to make an urgent appointment, but please consider the risk to the lives of the children. Being somewhere a minute earlier will never be worth the death or injury of a child or the impact that accident might have on your own life.

Please watch for the flashing red lights of your neighborhood school bus. We will monitor the violations again in a few weeks. It’s my hope that this awareness and a reminder will convince all of us to think twice before passing a school bus under protection of the reds. Approximately 17,000 students ride Pasadena ISD buses every day. I’m asking for your help in keeping our children safe.


A Question of School Safety

School safety rose to the top of the Texas legislative agenda in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Connecticut. That tragedy represents any community’s worst nightmare. Several bills have been filed in Austin to address additional safety and security measures. Pasadena ISD has voluntarily implemented many safety measures over the years. Most everyone knows we have a 32-member certified police force with officers stationed at every high school every day. Other members of the team patrol our elementary, middle and intermediate campuses regularly. These officers are highly trained, well-equipped and coordinate their emergency plans very well with the outstanding local law enforcement agencies in Pasadena, South Houston, Houston and Harris County.

To keep our kids and staff safe, the District has policies in place for hosting visitors on campus. The district has been creating security vestibules on our campuses; these require visitors to first enter the office. Our campuses use a visitor check-in system, security cameras, and metal detectors when necessary to monitor access to the school. Schools also conduct regular emergency drills, including lock-down drills.

There are bills pending that would allow districts to arm teachers either on a voluntary basis or by assigning specific individuals on campus to carry a weapon. In all honesty, I struggle with that idea and don’t believe it is the best solution for added security. I believe I would rather have additional trained officers to provide a more rapid response to any emergency. That being said, I’d love to hear from parents and community members. Please feel free to share your opinions on the subject.

While the solutions to this very serious issue may vary, the concern for student safety is one we all share. Let me hear from you.