- Pennock Elementary
Sam Ortega named Safety Director for 27J Schools
New safety director takes the helm in 27J Schools
New hire marks start of full safety program
Following through on a critical promise to voters who approved a mill levy override last November, 27J Schools is building a robust school safety program. As part of that, it named its first Director of Safety and Security – Sam Ortega.
Sam competed among other talented candidates as part of the district’s selection process. He currently serves as the district’s emergency response and crisis coordinator, and is one of two district safety staff serving the nearly 23,000-student district. When asked, the 27J Schools’ community strongly supported boosting student safety efforts including putting together a safety and security department, adding more safety officers to schools, and bolstering the training of all safety staff.
Having those expanded measures and people to support school safety is one of the components voters approved. Sam will spearhead the planning and implementation of building a safety and security department and executing a long- and short-range plan.
Sam brings a unique blend of school administration and school safety systems experience to the new position. He has first-hand knowledge of the safety focus school leaders have and he has strong relationships with local law enforcement including the Brighton, Commerce City, and Thornton Police Departments, as well as the Adams County Sheriff's Department. He’s trained with police officers in school safety drills, planning and problem-solving situations involving all of the district’s 24 district-managed schools.
“When it comes to school safety, we know our community and staff are confident they can count on Sam to be the kind of leader we need to keep our students and staff as safe as possible,” Superintendent Chris Fiedler said. “Sam has built strong relationships and partnerships to support our work to expand our safety and security system in 27J Schools.”
Having worked with Sam for more than five years to improve school safety, Chief Operating Officer Terry Lucero said it’s a real benefit to have a highly qualified safety professional for this role with relevant school administration experience. Sam was a school administrator and is familiar with safety issues from the school perspective. Lucero realizes Sam is passionate about making sure every child knows they are safe at school.
“We have a vast mix of students and families in 27J Schools,” Sam said. “Every single student deserves to come to school and feel safe. They need to have confidence in the safety of their school so they can focus completely on learning.”
Sam served as an assistant principal at Vikan Middle School, and as the principal of summer school in 27J Schools. He also served in Adams 14 School District as a middle school dean of students and athletic director in Commerce City.
Sam earned his bachelor's degree with a double major in criminal justice and political science from New Mexico Highlands University and his masters in educational administration from Grand Canyon University.
Sam begins his new role in March.