SAN JOSE, CA – At its March 7 meeting, the Santa Clara County Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution advocating for sensible gun safety legislation, opposing efforts to arm educators, and declaring support for the March for Our Lives rally on March 24.
The resolution highlights the epidemic of campus shootings and affirms Board Policy No. 5131.7, Weapons and Dangerous Instruments, that "students and staff have the right to a safe and secure campus free from psychological and physical harm and desires to protect them from the dangers presented by firearms and other weapons."
Since 2013, there have been 291 shootings on elementary, middle, high school and college campuses in the United States which averages to about one per week, and 168 of those shootings were at K-12 schools. In the past five years, 14 school shootings have occurred in California which resulted in 38 injuries and 20 deaths.
"We understand one of our primary responsibilities, in addition to learning, is keeping the students in our care safe. The Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) is working closely with local school districts and law enforcement agencies to strengthen our efforts to do so," said Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, County Superintendent of Schools. "We recently held active shooter and crisis communications trainings for schools as well as completed a school policing report highlighting best practices and policies regarding School Resource Officers."
Dr. Dewan also stated that all California public schools are required to have a comprehensive school safety plan. It is critical that students, staff, and families know their school's safety plan and that emergency drills are conducted. In addition to ensuring physical safety prevention measures, educators also emphasize the importance of positive school climate and culture in prevention. The County Office provides training and support related to school safety, school climate and culture, and student mental health and well-being through its Safe and Healthy Schools Program.
"I know our office, as well as the school districts across the county, are working very hard to keep our students safe," commented Rosemary Kamei, President of the Santa Clara County Board of Education. "As a Board, we are asking our federal and state officials to enact stricter gun control measures following one of the country's deadliest school shootings. This resolution calls on legislators to increase gun safety measures, mental health support and funding for public health research on issues related to firearms."
The school shooting in Parkland, Florida has also sparked student activism across the country: teenagers are marching, organizing, and taking to social media to pressure elected officials for meaningful gun legislation. On March 24, 2018, a National March for Our Lives will be held by student leaders seeking to deliver an unmistakable message that now is the time to pass commonsense gun safety laws. Local student leaders are organizing a march from San Jose City Hall at 11 a.m. on March 24. The Board voiced support for these efforts and last year; the County Office launched a civic education and engagement initiative to provide youth the tools to engage in civil discourse.
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The Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) is a regional service agency that provides instructional and business services to the 31 school districts of Santa Clara County. The SCCOE serves students through special education programs, alternative schools, Head Start and State Preschool programs, migrant education, and Opportunity Youth Academy. The Office also provides curriculum support, staff development, and technology support and training directly to teachers and staff in schools countywide.