The following is a letter to parents from Bend-La Pine School District Superintendent Steven Cook, which was released along with the findings of the district’s internal investigation after a convicted child sex offender was allowed inside High Desert Middle School on June 7.
OFFICE OF THE SUPERINTENDENT
520 N.W. Wall Street
Bend, Oregon 97703-2699
July 15, 2022
Dear High Desert Middle School families,
Yesterday, Bend-La Pine Schools concluded a weeks-long investigation into the safety breach that took place on June 7 at High Desert Middle School. In the spirit of transparency, I wanted to take time to follow up with you about this investigation, as I indicated I would in my June 8 letter to families. Additionally, members of the media have submitted Public Records Requests for our investigation findings as well as video from the event. These public records will be made available to the media shortly after I have shared this update with you.
The event at High Desert Middle School on June 7, is not indicative of our culture and our commitment to safety at Bend-La Pine Schools. Entry by the public into secure areas of our schools, without mandatory check-in, violates district policy, puts our school communities at risk, and is not acceptable.
Read findings here
I recognize that families may have follow up questions and I will do my best to answer what I can. When it comes to specific personnel inquiries, I have a responsibility and obligation to keep personnel matters confidential and will not be able to answer specific personnel questions.
High Desert remains an excellent school, with dedicated and talented staff members who care deeply about your students. While this safety breach was unacceptable, what we have learned from it will serve as a critical reminder and make all our schools even stronger when it comes to enforcing safety practices. We can do better and we will do better.
We will continue to ensure HDMS is a safe place to learn. We expect staff to recommit to our safety practices and are training to support this effort. District leaders are meeting with school administration to review safety protocols and practices to ensure all staff are following district guidelines and standards. We will continue to train in areas where we find gaps in our systems and work towards fixing those.
District administrators will be meeting with High Desert Middle School staff to discuss this event and the circumstances around it. We are also committed to connecting with families who have questions or concerns.
Finally, I am sharing that Wendy McCulloch wanted you to know that she recently resigned her position as principal of High Desert to assume the role of Director of Special Education at a district in Washington state. We are finalizing plans for an interim principal at High Desert and hope to announce details within the next week.
Thank you for supporting our teams as we have worked to ensure a fair and thorough investigation. We remain committed to ensuring all of our students have safe, welcoming places to learn and value your support of our school community.
Dr. Steven Cook
Bend-La Pine Schools