Dear SCCOE Colleagues:
The Parkland, Florida, shooting and the recent threats of school violence raise fresh concerns and awareness about school safety and school culture.
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. We recently held an active shooter training and crisis communication training for schools as well as completed a school policing report in May 2017. This report highlighted best practices and policies regarding School Resource Officers.
All California public schools are required to have a comprehensive school safety plan. It is critical that students, staff, and families know your school's safety plan and that emergency drills are conducted. In addition to ensuring physical safety prevention measures, educators should also emphasize the importance of positive school climate and culture in prevention.
As Santa Clara County schools continue to refine and practice emergency protocols, we need your assistance. We ask for families and children to immediately report any threat or safety concern to school officials or law enforcement. If you hear of a student who might exhibit patterns of behavior or mental health issues that could lead to acts of violence, please inform school staff. If you learn of a threat made to a student or a school, let the school principal know or call 911.
Here are some resources to recognize the signs of students who may be in emotional distress as well as some resources for emergency mental and behavioral health services:
In addition, the SCCOE provides training and support related to school safety, school climate and culture, and student mental health and well-being. Learn more about student support topics on our Safe and Healthy Schools resource page.
In the aftermath of such tragedies, educators work to ensure that every measure is taken to ensure the security of their campus. In addition, they provide a safe space for their students to share their concerns, ask questions, and find answers. Parents are often looking for resources to approach the difficult topic of school violence with their children.
At the March 7th meeting, the Santa Clara County Board of Education will consider a resolution urging federal and state officials to enact stricter gun control measures following one of the country's deadliest school shootings. The resolution also calls on legislators to increase 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. The County Office of Education launched a civic education and engagement initiative to provide youth the tools to engage in civil discourse. If your student is considering participating, here are some helpful resources:
I want to reassure parents and our community that the safety of our students is our highest priority. Coming together as a community and remaining vigilant will help us to ensure that students are safe and allow us to continue the important work of education. For additional resources, please visit our School Safety Guidance and Resources web page.
Dr. Mary Ann Dewan
County Superintendent of Schools