| Dear Parents:
I am writing from the district office with well-wishes and warm regards for the start of the new school year. I hope your summer has been filled with rest and quality family time.
ISG's seven schools have taken the past week to prepare for Monday's opening. There is excitement among the teachers to meet their students. Unfortunately, we have a number of new teachers who are still awaiting their initial entry visa to Saudi Arabia. As a result, some classrooms across the district will not have its permanent teacher. Accordingly, the principals are making arrangements for suitable substitutes until the issue is resolved at the Ministry of Labor. I apologize for this disruption to the start of your child's school year, and please know this issue is the number one priority for the district office.
The safety of our children is of utmost importance at ISG. We have systems and attitudes in place to help protect our children from maltreatment, abuse or neglect. With a few prominent scandals in the news last year, ISG has taken the opportunity to re-examine our practices, and to reinforce the seriousness of this issue in our community.
Beginning this past spring, ISG's counselors broke into small workgroups to tackle various aspects of ISG's web of support and intervention on child protection. Additional attention has been given to child safety training for staff, "good touch/bad touch" curriculum for students, and a resource manual for adults. These improvements are in the works.
This past week, I spoke to all staff on the importance of taking the mindset of "it takes a village to keep a child safe" (our goal is to create a robust safety net through teamwork and awareness). Please know that each adult at ISG has the responsibility to notify a counselor or administrator if they are concerned about a child's welfare, or if they see something unusual. We also reviewed some simple steps to ensure students are not put in vulnerable situations. Finally, we explored this issue through the cultural lens of family values and honor that is so dear in this region.
You will receive a more comprehensive child protection letter later in the school year. However, I wanted to take this moment to share with you ISG's efforts.
ISG's 21st Century Initiative
ISG has launched a comprehensive initiative to align each of its schools to modern best practices; the focus is on the classroom. Your children should notice immediate changes, such as a stronger internet connection, and many more devices made available to them. Other components of the initiative include adopting best practices in literacy (writing is a particular focus at ISG this year). We are also committed to revamping homework policies across the district, and to providing education on safe and responsible use of technology and the internet.
In the fall, I will host parent nights at each of our campuses, where I will outline the key pieces of the initiative. You will have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the big changes we are putting in place, and you will have the chance to ask any questions you may have.
Take care, and we hope to see you on campus soon.
Dr. Paul Richards