BISD stresses safety in schools

In light of the recent school shooting in Michigan, superintendent Peter Bang-Knudsen’s thoughts were focused on safety and refining the district’s response to threats at a recent Bainbridge Island school board meeting

“When I heard the governor of Michigan talking about the school shooting,” he said, “it’s every parent’s worst nightmare. I know we can all relate to that terrible feeling of having something happen to your child or a colleague at school.”

Bang-Knudsen reflected on the gun violence around the country and called on state and national legislators to take action, and along shared what the school district is doing here.

He emphasized the importance of reporting a threat or concern to any district principal, staff member or counselor. “We have a very good program called ‘Safe Schools Alert’ to report a concern, and it’s on every page of our website.” Reports can be made anonymously.

Bang-Knudsen stressed that the district has a process to review threats of violence, and explained that associate superintendent Erin Murphy works with counselors and administrators to review threats with local police and mental health officials. She collaborates with experts from outside the district to make an assessment when there is a threat to ensure student safety. When incidents occur like the one in Michigan, the district reviews its processes.

“We review the situation with our teams for any lessons learned and work to refine our processes from the preventive side, as well as a worst-case scenario with some kind of active shooter lockdown drills,” he said.

He highlighted the strong working relationship and training collaborations with local first responders, BI fire and police departments, and is appreciative of State Patrol, Suquamish police and Poulsbo police.

“When there’s a multi-agency response, it’s pretty incredible to see how quickly and well-organized that response is. Again, It’s something we certainly hope we never have to initiate, but I just wanted to assure the board and the public that this is something that we reflect on and train.”


Bang-Knudsen also shared a few highlights of things happening around the district that were allowing students to volunteer and reconnect with the community.

He recognized BHS head custodian, Elliott Howard, who is teaching students how to reduce the district’s carbon footprint by using the new recycling sorting system.

He also showed photos of BHS culinary arts students who participated in a cupcake challenge judged by the owners of Blackbird Bakery, which displayed some winners’ creations in storefront windows.

Ordway kindergarten students created handmade Thanksgiving Day cards that were included in holiday community meals for seniors.


The district continues to watch COVID-19 cases rise following Thanksgiving, and Kitsap County and state health officials continue to emphasize vaccinations.

“Just when we’re starting to figure out Delta, here comes Omicron,” Bang-Knudsen said. “The most important thing we can do is get our booster shots for the adults, get all of the younger kids vaccinated.”

Bang-Knudsen thanked community partners Bainbridge Prepares and the Bainbridge Fire Department, which provided vaccination clinics for youngsters. The district continues to plan ways to “off-ramp” some COVID restrictions while still following state and county guidelines.

Regardless of vaccination status, adults are no longer required to wear masks when outside on BISD campuses as long as they remain 6 feet from one another, and students are not in a large crowd.

BISD also is in the process of reinstating field trips.

The board approved the following consent agenda items: a travel request from Bainbridge High School principal Kristina Rodgers for Model UN; and coaches Erin McCallum and Marlo Dorny to travel to Washington, D.C. with 21 students to participate in the NAIMUN, Model UN Conference.

Approved donations

Bainbridge High: $15,000 for 2021 YES Funds/financial assistance for students, from the Bainbridge Schools Foundation.

Sakai Intermediate: Over $5,000 for club stipends and supplemental supplies, from the Sakai PTO.

Wilkes Elementary: Over $2,200 for subscriptions and supplemental supplies, from the Wilkes PTO.

Ordway Elementary: Over $1,400 for six classroom licenses, from the Ordway PTO.

Odyssey Multiage Program: $2,000 for supplemental STEM supplies, from the Odyssey PTO.

Public comments

Several community members made comments supporting the district’s efforts to promote equity and diversity, and for including anti-racism material in the curriculum.

Adrian Malatesta said, “I’m here to raise a counterpoint to other ideas and positions brought before you at other meetings. These include the inaccurate potentially misleading nature of terms like ‘divisive’ and ‘uncomfortable’ as the basis for opposing whole-history curriculum.”

He continued: “Human history can be divisive. Human history can be and is uncomfortable. When I was in school, I witnessed the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. It was not comfortable. 9/11 was not comfortable.

“The history of dispossessed Indigenous people was and is uncomfortable. The history of marginalization of communities of color is uncomfortable. The history of internment on this island is uncomfortable. Active shooter drills are uncomfortable.

“And we heard a fair amount of time talking about what happened in Michigan, just recently. It’s extremely disturbing and uncomfortable, but we face them because it’s the world we live in. It’s the world our kids live in, and they can handle it. Our children deserve the truth and anything, but that entire truth is dishonest. Teaching the entirety of history through the eyes of all people and all stories is truth.”