Dear Parents and Guardians,
The recent revelations of clergy sexual abuse are deeply troubling and we want you to know that the safety and well-being of our students is of primary importance to us.
Bishop of Oakland Michael C. Barber, SJ, issued the following statement recently in which he vehemently condemns this “immoral and criminal behavior” and vows to ensure our Diocese is a safe place for all through comprehensive policies and procedures that are in place in the Diocese of Oakland and consequently Bishop O’Dowd High School »
At O’Dowd, we have a designated Safe Environment Coordinator (Business Manager Joan Grell) who ensures compliance of screening and training of both faculty and staff and any volunteers, including parents, who have direct, ongoing contact with our students. This includes VIRTUS online classes (retraining is required every three years), and FBI and Department of Justice fingerprinting and screening.
With respect to our students, O’Dowd created the Safe Environment curriculum (managed by Director of Health and Wellness Mark Lederer) which addresses issues such as health and safety in relationships in a school setting; this curriculum meets and exceeds the mandate of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to be in compliance with the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People.
The Safe Environment curriculum is thoughtfully integrated into each grade level. For freshmen, the focus is on recognizing abuse in relationships and maintaining safety in adult and peer relationships. Sophomore curriculum focuses on suicide and self harm prevention. Emphasis for juniors is on substance use and abuse, and developing and maintaining healthy habits. Senior curriculum addresses health and safety in peer relationships.
Schoolwide health and safety supports that extend beyond the faculty and staff education and screenings, and student Safe Environment curriculum include an annual Health and Wellness week, trauma informed crisis response planning, and the printing of crisis support numbers on student identification cards.
Please let us know if you have questions or concerns. I welcome conversations with you and your students at any time.
James Childs President, Bishop O’Dowd High School