Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Calls for New Measures to Protect Students

Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Shay Mikalson sent out a letter to parents and students on Monday afternoon, calling for new laws to protect teachers and students at schools.

In the letter, Mikalson asks lawmakers to:
1) Create a new crime in Oregon of “terroristic threat” at a felony level.
2) Fund threat assessment teams to provide threat assessments to youth in crisis.
3) Extend the maximum detention from 36 hours to 10 days for misdemeanor charges filed against youth with weapons offenses or who have made threats against others.
The letter comes a week after a 16-year-old boy was arrested for making threats against unspecified threats against students at Bend Senior High School.


Here is the letter from Shay Mikalson in full:
February 26, 2018

Greetings Bend-La Pine Schools Community,

Last week I shared with you a few of the ways that our schools are working to ensure physical and emotional safety at our schools. Today, I want to share with you the ways that you can join me in these efforts. By acting together, we can exponentially increase our positive impact as we continue to advocate for the safe learning environments our students and staff deserve.

Urge Lawmakers to Create New Laws
Please join me in urging our elected official to create new laws that immediately help to improve school and community safety throughout Oregon. Our elected officials are receiving many big asks right now, so I have identified three that I believe are easy to implement now, during their short session.

I am asking lawmakers to:
1. Create a new crime in Oregon of terroristic threat at a felony level.
2. Fund threat assessment teams to provide threat assessments to youth in crisis.
3. Extend maximum detention from 36 hours to 10 days for misdemeanor charges filed against youth with weapons offenses or who have made threats against others.

I sent messages to our state representatives and senators this morning urging their support of these school and community safety efforts that I believe must be moved to law during the current short session. You can see these letters and learn more about these asks at

Secure Weapons, Pills from Children
I plead that you take a moment to secure weapons and pills in your homes in ways that do not allow access to children. It is important to understand that everyone experiences tough times. During these tough times, it may be best to give your weapons or pills to a friend for safekeeping. Temporarily holding pills, a gun, knife or other weapon for a loved one or friend can help that person get through stressful periods safely. It is a temporary step until things get better.

Additionally, our friends at the Bend Police Department are offering free cable locks. Just drop by their main office to pick one or more up for your home, office or vehicle. Locking up weapons may also reduce the number of stolen guns in our community. On average, in Bend alone, at least one weapon is stolen out of an unlocked vehicle each week. Imagine how – by working together ‑ we could reduce this number dramatically and keep weapons out of the hands of our youth.

Facility Safety Improvements, Including Secure Lobbies
In 2014, we hired an international expert on school safety and his team to assess our school safety practices and to assess our facilities and provide architectural observations. You may have noticed many changes that we have made since this time, including requiring visitors enter through main entries, requiring visitors and volunteers to check-in and out of our schools, locking exterior doors, improvements in exterior lighting and many other efforts.

This assessment suggested the addition of secure lobbies at all of our schools. We successfully piloted a secure lobby design at several school sites before asking voters to fund the construction of secure lobbies at all schools in 2017. Thanks to your overwhelming support of the May 2017 construction bond, work to deliver secure lobbies at our schools is currently underway. The work at the more than 20 school sites was previously planned through the bond to occur over the next four summer construction seasons.

I have been meeting with teams to evaluate how we can speed up this work and we have made a decision to accelerate our schedule. By allowing construction to happen in our schools during the school year, rather than just during the summer months, the work to secure our lobbies will be expedited. As we work through the logistics of the accelerated secure lobby schedule, we will continue to keep families updated.

Visible Visitors, Volunteers and Staff
Until these lobbies are complete, we are making efforts to ensure visibility of visitor access through improved line of sight on entries and diligent supervision. You, too, can help ensure a safer school environment by always checking into our main offices for permission to visit and wearing proper identification. You can also help by sending anyone without proper identification – including our staff – to the Human Resources office for a visitor badge or replacement staff badge.

Counselors and Support Staff

This school year, we added additional counselors to our secondary schools. We currently have more than 30 counselors who meet with students each day at our middle and high schools. In addition, schools have psychologists who provide student support and advocacy at all elementary, middle and high schools. We also employ two full-time therapists who support our highest needs students at our schools in Bend, La Pine and Sunriver.

We staff schools in ways that ensure students have access to mental and behavioral health support at school with the funding available. We could do even more with better support from our legislature. If this is something you are passionate about, I ask that you contact your elected officials to make increased funding available for the hiring of additional positions to support our students’ social and emotional health needs.

Planning, Prevention, Intervention and Response
Safe schools are fundamental to students’ school successes and achievements. Providing a safe and orderly school environment is an ever-present priority of Bend-La Pine Schools. Here, school safety is addressed through a comprehensive approach that focuses on planning, prevention, intervention and response. Systems and programs are in place that create caring school communities where students and staff feel safe and supported. Bend-La Pine Schools is committed to ensuring psychologically safe, healthy learning environments. You can learn more about these efforts by visiting our Emergency Preparedness webpage and our Student Mental Health webpage.

I am thankful for you, our wonderful Bend-La Pine Schools community. Thank you for caring for and supporting not only our students but each other.


Shay Mikalson, Superintendent Bend-La Pine Schools

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