I am linking a press release from the New Hampshire Department of Safety on this morning's calls to police departments in New Hampshire. Press Release from the New Hampshire Department of Safety (Click here)
At approximately 9:57 morning, the Portsmouth Police Department received a call that an active shooter incident had occurred at Portsmouth High School. Portsmouth Police responded, and all schools in the city were sent into lockdown. Portsmouth Police arrived on the scene and determined that there was no immediate threat. Both the school department and police department followed our protocols and procedures until we could confirm that the schools were clear and staff and students were safe. In addition to the high school, all schools in Portsmouth were swept by law enforcement and determined to be safe. During these actions, police officials were notified by the New Hampshire Information and Analysis Center (NHIAC) that numerous schools around the state had received similar calls. At this point, police and school officials believe that the original call was a hoax sent to numerous cities and towns. Due to the ongoing calls throughout the state, police will continue to have a presence at Portsmouth Schools through the end of today. Chief Mark Newport Portsmouth Police Department Dr. Zach McLaughlin Superintendent of Schools
Portsmouth Police Department, Portsmouth Fire Department, and State Police have completed sweeps of all Portsmouth Schools. No intruders have been found. In addition, we are receiving information that the original phone threat may have been replicated amongst several other schools in our region. Now that schools have been swept, we will return to normal operations. In addition, we will continue to monitor the situation both within Portsmouth and across the region. Chief Mark Newport Portsmouth Police Department Dr. Zach McLaughlin Superintendent of Schools [Thursday, Dec 8 at 10:53 AM] At this time, the schools are returning to normal operations, and the police department will have a presence at each school throughout the rest of the day.
Please note: This video has closed captions available. Please note that the captions capture the song lyrics while the transcript does not. A transcript of the video is available below and will be automatically translated to secondary languages within ParentSquare for families that have indicated a language request. Links mentioned in this video: PSD Nursing Services Survey Greetings, Portsmouth School Department. Hey, I hope you're all having a wonderful weekend. On this Sunday, I wanted to reach out on two quick things. One is just an ongoing reminder that we continue to move closer and closer to an opportunity for the public to weigh in on strategic planning. We are in the process right now of receiving proposals from some outside groups who are going to help us coordinate all that work. And as I think about that, of course, as I said to you before, the two things that we're trying to think about are, what are the things that we want to see the schools hang onto and continue to do well, and what are the things that we need to do more of? And so there's some important prioritization that comes with that. So start thinking about that stuff. And I know I was really this, one of the things that I've been thinking about over the last couple weeks especially, is the importance of our arts programming here in Portsmouth schools. Several different times. I went to the performance of Oklahoma! at the high school and was like thoroughly impressed by what our students and staff were able to put on. The quality of the performances, the quality of the sets, just really, really impressive. And within high quality facilities that allow students to have the best possible experience. And then last night, I'm sure a bunch of you were with me when we were down in town for the tree lighting and the parade and whose front and center in pulling all that together? Our holiday ensemble of students from the middle school and high school performing holiday music. It really drove home for me, those couple of things that have really driven home for me, how important those aspects, the arts are and what it is that we do as a school department and how that helps us develop thoughtful human beings that hopefully are going to have happy lives. So think about arts as we keep moving towards these conversations we're going to have as a community. The other thing I wanted to plug really quick is that, of course, as a school district, we're also always trying to improve. And so I'm going to include a link to a survey down below that our school nurses have put together. And basically what they're trying to do is just seek out feedback from other staff, from parents and from students about what their experience has been with their school nurse. It's great. And the survey is anonymous, but it gives them a chance to reflect on what your experiences are with them and for them to continue to do the things they're doing well and improve upon the things they could do better. And it shows a lot of professional courage on their part, and I applaud them for it. And I hope it's something, the type of thing that we continue to do as a school district. Okay. I think that's it. Those are my two things for this week. Oh, on the arts. One other thing, just know that we are also in holiday concert season. And from now until the holiday break, there are a whole bunch of amazing opportunities to see our students in musical performances in a variety of different ways and a variety of different partnerships with other groups. So I hope you get on our website and check out when those dates are and come out and see our kids perform. All right? Okay. I hope everybody has a great upcoming week and we'll see you soon. Take care.
Please note: This video has closed captions available. Please note that the captions capture the song lyrics while the transcript does not. A transcript of the video is available below and will be automatically translated to secondary languages within ParentSquare for families that have indicated a language request. Happy almost Thanksgiving, Portsmouth School Department. Hey, before we head out for the break, two quick things that I want to run by folks. One is about strategic planning once again, and the other is a couple of messages of thanks as we head out to the holiday. First, on strategic planning, I just wanted to mention some observations I've had as we start to think about this process of thinking about what we really want the schools to do. I want you to think deeply about what are the things that we want to keep and hold onto and preserve, and then what are the new things that we hope to be doing in the future. I had an opportunity recently to go down to Washington, D.C. I think some of you know last year, I was really humbled to be the Vermont Superintendent of the Year, and I've had over the course of the past year an opportunity to engage the other 50 state superintendents of the year from around the country. Most recently, the last event that we had was down in Washington, D.C., and it was a great couple of days of interactions with those other folks from around the country. Two things really stuck out to me about where we are compared to these other school leaders in different parts of the country. The first is that a lot of places would be really envious of the school systems that we already have. We are well-positioned to give kids a lot of what we want them to have, and we're in a great place. The second is that I think that we have a responsibility with all that we have and all that we're able to do to make sure that we're maximizing this raw opportunity that we have here in Portsmouth. It's a special opportunity, and hopefully, we're going to do a lot with it because there's a lot of other places that would really love to trade with us. So I think we have a responsibility to those other places and, of course, to our own community to do the best possible job we can. Two ideas about, so again, keep thinking about that strategic planning conversation because as we come out of the holidays, we're going to be moving pretty fast on trying to have community dialogues about what are the priorities for us as a school district. All right, really quick, two thanks before we head out for the holidays. The first is about this building behind me. I just want to thank the Portsmouth Police Department for their ongoing partnership with us. Over the last couple of months, we've had a couple of times, whether it is events that are going on in the school or events that were happening across the river, where we've had to really be able to lean on that constructive partnership with this group of folks. And they consistently have been well prepared, very thoughtful in what they do, and unbelievably collaborative in their work. So I just want to thank them for all of that. Second and last thought before we head out for Thanksgiving. There are so many good things happening in these schools, and I think the thing that is pretty unique compared to a lot of places I've been is just how strong the ties are between the community and the school system, parents, the community at large, and our kids and our teachers. I just want to show you a clip from a Veteran's Day event that was happening at Dondero. I'm going to give just a quick moment of it, but it's at the end of a Veteran's Day event. Dondero brought up all the veterans they had invited to the school. Some of these were grandparents, some of these were parents of students, and some of them were just community members, and the students serenaded those veterans with a patriotic song. I just want to give you a quick clip of that because I think it's a pretty special thing. Students: (Singing). Superintendent: So, there you go. A pretty feel-good moment as a superintendent standing in the back of the room watching that happen. So, it's time to head out. I hope you have a great last day, everybody. I hope that the holiday is a safe and joyous one for everyone. I hope you get a chance to catch your breath, reflect, and be with the ones that you care about. And then we'll see you on the other side, and we'll get back to it. Take care, and happy Thanksgiving. Students: (Singing).
Please note: This video has closed captions available. A transcript of the video is available below and will be automatically translated to secondary languages within ParentSquare for families that have indicated a language request. Items Referenced: https://www.girlsontherun.org/ Transcript Begins Here: Happy Saturday Portsmouth School Department. Hey, I'm here up in Concord this morning. A whole bunch of our girls are participating in the "Girls on the Run" event for New Hampshire. For those of you who don't know what that is, I'm going to include a link down below. A bunch of our girls from around the district and a bunch of our teachers are participating in this event that is primarily about girls' empowerment. It's a great reminder of the fact that our schools are partially about the academics and those types of things, but it's also about events like this where we're helping our kids become the type of human beings we want to be. And if you want to see more of those types of things this weekend, we also have the opportunity to see some of our high school students who are involved in drama with their presentation of Oklahoma, both this afternoon and tomorrow as well. So, with all of these events, it's a great reminder of the fact that our schools are, yes, about academic learning, but also about the creation of good, happy human beings. And so with that in mind, I wanted to actually mention one other thing, and it's a decision I've come to about what we're doing in relation to snow days. Because I almost got caught by surprise the other day and kind of forgot that, oh my God, the year has kind of moved along and we're really close to a time where we need to know what we're doing in relation to snow days. So I want you to know that the plan is, because I've had this question from the first time I came in to interview with kids at the middle school, and someone asked me, "Hey, what are you going to do with remote days and snow next year?" And my answer's pretty much the same as it was to them, which is what we're going to do is we will stick with traditional snow days, not doing remote days, for at least the first four days of this upcoming school year. And the reason why that is this type of stuff really shows that schools are, as much as anything, about human connection and that the real magic of what we do happens when we're all able to be all together. So, if we have a whole bunch of snow days this year and that puts us in a situation where we need to start looking at the fact that we don't want to start rolling into July, that'll be a different situation, but for the time being, we're going to go ahead and stick with traditional snow days. So it gives parents an opportunity to plan and students, you know what's coming as well. So, all right, that's all I got for you this time around. I'm going to go enjoy the race and cheer on our girls and I hope I see you at “Oklahoma.” So, have a great weekend. Take care.
Good morning Portsmouth School Department parents, students, and staff, This morning several schools in Maine are dealing with telephone-based threats. In light of this, I wanted to ensure that you knew that the city of Portsmouth is aware and taking steps in response to the situation. This morning the Portsmouth Police Department became aware of a possible active shooter situation in Sanford, Maine. Communication was pushed out to upper command staff, including the chief of police and school officials. Officers were sent to each of our schools that did not already have a school resource officer onsite. Within a few minutes of receiving this information, the Police Department was already getting secondary information that this was likely a hoax that was impacting multiple Maine schools. Within approximately 15 minutes of receiving the initial information, the Maine Information Analysis Center (IAC) sent out a bulletin that the threats affected multiple Maine school districts. The Portsmouth School Department has yet to receive a similar call. The Portsmouth Police Department and Portsmouth School Department do not believe the schools face an imminent threat. The Police Department and the School Department will continue to monitor the situation and keep you abreast if anything new develops. Thanks for your ongoing support, Dr. Zach McLaughlin Superintendent of Schools
Dear Portsmouth High School students, parents, and staff, In our commitment to healthy communication and transparency, we wanted to share with you the most basic details of an incident we investigated today at PHS. Today at 1:18 pm, a student reported to the high school administration that one of the boys' bathrooms had been vandalized. Someone had used a marker to write a series of messages that included: An image of a swastika A message that said, “Bomb 1,2,3,4 poof” A small drawing of a stick figure drawing of a person with a gun and the phrase “school shooter” Additional obscene language The high school administration immediately closed the bathroom. All other bathrooms were inspected. Administration, in consultation with the School Resource Officer, determined that there was no imminent threat to the building. The messages and images were removed from the vandalized bathroom. The high school continues to investigate the event. Any students with additional information concerning this act are encouraged to contact PHS Administration. Portsmouth School Department rejects all forms of hate. The symbols and language of hate, disrespect, and intimidation have no place on our campus or in our communities. As a school community, it is our collective responsibility to fight against racism and discrimination. We applaud the PHS student who quickly notified the administration. Across the district, we are committed to creating safe environments and engaging our students to understand the power of tolerance, respect, understanding, and empathy. Zach McLaughlin Superintendent
Please note: This video has closed captions available. A transcript of the video is available below and will be automatically translated to secondary languages within ParentSquare for families that have indicated a language request. Transcript: Happy Friday Portsmouth School Department. So this one will be really quick this week. I just want to preview something for you and I want you to start thinking about it. We are, as a school district and as a school department, we are moving into a process where we're going to do some new strategic planning. At the core of that work is really all of us who are part of the school community. Teachers, staff, students, parents and then actually all of the Portsmouth community as a whole. We need to come together and we're really going to talk about what do we want the schools to do? What's most important for the schools to prioritize? We want to have a really rich community conversation about that and as we do it, we're really looking at a couple of things. What are the things that we already do really well that we want to enhance and that we want to keep? Then what are some things that we think we could do better? So sometime in the near future, the board, school board, is going to be contracting with an outside company to come in and help us facilitate all these community conversations. Some of that might look like we're sending you surveys. Some of it might be in focus groups, some of it might be in some other form of meetings or contact. At the core of it is really just making sure that everybody has a voice in helping direct where we go from here. So we're not in a rush. We're still a couple months out from when some of that organized work is going to happen, but I want you to start thinking about it. Start thinking about what are the things that are here that are currently part of what we do in Portsmouth schools that you really cherish and you want to make sure are protected? What are the things that you wish we did more of? So start thinking about that. Have conversations. If you're a student, have conversations with your fellow students about those types of questions, your parents. Parents have conversations with your neighbors about it. Staff hit the pause button in the middle of running on that metaphorical treadmill that we're on all the time and give yourself permission to think deeply about what should we be doing as a whole organization. So, all right. That's it for this week. I wish everybody a wonderful weekend. Enjoy as we start to get into the peak here on foliage. Enjoy the weekend and we'll talk to you soon. See you.
Good afternoon Portsmouth School District families, Mother Nature has been busy this afternoon, and it will force us to be a little flexible. Little Harbour School is currently without power, but staff is stepping up and doing a great job. Students are safe, and they will be returning home at normal dismissal time. In addition, there are branches down in various places around the city, so we anticipate that our bus runs will be delayed a bit as drivers navigate things. Thanks for your ongoing support. We hope you have a nice dry weekend. [Friday, Oct 14 at 2:33 PM] Please note that due to the power outage at Little Harbour there is no PEAK today at Little Harbour. The school also does not have alternative dismissal plans in place for those PEAK students. So, PEAK students will be kept at Little Harbour School until parents can pickup.