Dear School Administrators, Community Leaders, and Lawmakers:

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartbreak, carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill

Click here to download the Official PDF letter!

 Each of you have a huge opportunity as you deal with adversity and as you make choices that students, parents, and others are demanding to fix and stop school violence and to make sure students will #NeverAgain face a tragic shooting attack in their school.

The huge opportunity requires a combination of common-sense, evidence-based analysis, and an unbiased willingness to understand what must be done DIFFERENTLY to disrupt evil and stop school violence and tragic shootings.  You essentially have two choices: Option A or Option B.

The evidence from the evil attack at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida mirrors similarities we have seen in hundreds of other previous attacks.  Common-sense suggests these similarities are where School Administrators, Community Leaders, and Lawmakers, like yourselves, should be focusing your immediate efforts. Will you choose Option A or Option B?

The similarities exposed involve incomprehensible failures with “Connecting the Dots”.  Clearly, more than enough “Dots” (warning signs, resources, etc.) were available for adults and leaders to disrupt the escalation of evil and prevent the planned attack at Stoneman Douglas… but trusted adults, school administrators, community leaders, and law enforcement failed again.

Failures with “Connecting the Dots” (warning signs, resources, etc.) have been documented in hundreds of post-incident reports including:  Columbine in 1999, 9-11 in 2001, Virginia Tech in 2007, Sandy Hook in 2012, and now Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018.  Common-sense suggests that failures with “Connecting the Dots” for nearly 20 years require DIFFERENT solutions, not more of the same status quo.

Additional similarities involve dangerous community-wide gaps and silos, which includes the gaps and silos within school departments, local law enforcement, state/federal law enforcement, mental health, social service agencies, social media, community members, and community resources.  There are also similarities with silo systems (student record, student conduct, security, case management, incident reporting, human resources, legal, law enforcement, social services, etc.) at schools and across community resources.  These gaps and silos need immediate actions by YOU the School Administrators, Community Leaders, and Lawmakers to ensure students #NeverAgain face tragic attacks in your schools.

Validation of the gaps and silos across schools and communities were noted by Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie after the tragedy:

“But the big challenge, I believe, is that we have various agencies, including the school system, that are working really hard but in silos.” Runcie said, “there isn’t a system available in which the schools, law enforcement, social service agencies and mental health agencies share information that could possibly connect the dots about a particular student.” 

While Superintendent Runcie is correct about silos and the need to “Connect the Dots”, he is incorrect in saying there isn’t a system available, because a Community-wide Connecting the Dots Platform IS AVAILABLE and IN USE in schools and communities who decided to take advantage of the opportunity to lead with new, proven, and DIFFERENT solutions focused on Student and Public Safety instead of almost entirely on status quo efforts with School Security and See Something, Say Something.

It is time to face the reality that “See Something, Say Something” is a nice slogan, but not the solution to stop violence.  The facts from Parkland, FL show that even though lots of people, including students, did See Something, Say Something as they were told to do… it clearly was not effective for Stoneman Douglas High School and it clearly has not worked to prevent numerous other school shootings, community shootings, terrorist attacks, and other acts of evil.

Why? See Something, Say Something requires reporting “warning signs” which are routed to Law Enforcement, but Law Enforcement cannot take action if the “warning signs” are not a crime.  And the “warning signs” end up in Law Enforcement databases that are not shared and not connected with other Community-wide Resources who could be taking proactive action to intervene with at-risk individuals.  When warning signs and community resources are not connected – bad things happen.

Broward County Sheriff validated the dangerous disconnect in their “Setting the Record Straight” website to address claims against Broward County Sheriff personnel.

CLAIM: Broward Sheriff’s Office missed countless warning signs about shooting suspect.

“Calls for service to an address show the number of times deputies receive a call from a specific location. It does not mean that what occurred was criminal or an arrestable offense.

BSO investigators reviewed all the calls for service involving the shooter and his family. Of those calls, 18 involved the shooter directly. Those previous calls did not equate to a crime being committed. There were no arrestable offenses, nor was there evidence to prompt an involuntary mental health assessment. The shooter was assessed several times by mental health professionals and deemed not to be a threat to himself or others.”

To achieve DIFFERENT results and stop school violence, YOU need to question status quo thinking and status quo solutions.

This open letter to School Administrators, Community Leaders, and Lawmakers is to officially let you and everyone else know (students, parents, private sponsors, etc.) the proven Community-wide “Connecting the Dots” Platform does exist as well as the opportunity and choice to implement game-changing solutions that will save lives and give your students the safety and the changes they deserve!

You and all other School Administrators, Community Leaders, and Lawmakers have essentially two options going forward:

Option A… continue adding security (armed guards, SROs, locks, alarms, access control, cameras, etc.) only to have those hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars of security be defeated again and again by “kids”, young adults, and other evil doers… and continue to promote See Something, Say Something as a solution even though it continues to fail (as it did in Parkland, FL), makes growing distrust with law enforcement even worse, and creates more dangerous silos.

Option B… implement a Community-wide “Connecting the Dots” Platform (incident management software) so the Warning Signs/Dots (almost always observed and reported) can be connected more effectively and immediately connected with the appropriate Team Members (school administration, threat, behavior, safety, intervention, community social services, community mental health, community law enforcement, etc.) who can intervene and disrupt evil BEFORE it happens.

Unfortunately, Option A is what the Florida Lawmakers decided to implement at a cost of $450M+.  NO real changes from what Stoneman Douglas already had and NO real solution for “Community-wide Connecting the Dots”.  Is this the change your students are asking for?  No, not even close.

Continuing to add more status quo security and more See Something, Say Something when they obviously did NOT work for Stoneman Douglas and did NOT get the right information to the right people who could have disrupted evil and intervened with the at-risk individual BEFORE they committed a crime is not DIFFERENT.  Students, parents, and all of you know it makes no sense to wait for an evil doer to commit a crime first – such as a mass shooting at a school – and then react.  We must do better!

School Administrators, Community Leaders, and Lawmakers – all of YOU – have an opportunity to disrupt evil and stop violence in your schools and your communities BEFORE it happens… it’s your choice, will you continue with status quo (Option A) or will you go for different solutions and game-changing results (Option B)?

I want to help YOU, the School Administrators, Community Leaders, and Lawmakers, to fix the gaps, “Connect the Dots”, and disrupt evil in your schools and communities.  Please contact me now… and please share this open letter with your colleagues and your School Board members who need to know what they don’t know so together we can make students safer – I think we can all agree they deserve immediate, different, and proven solutions that work.


Rick Shaw

Founder Awareity