The Coronado Unified School District hosted a School Safety Forum on Wednesday, August 31st at District Offices focused on stopping school shootings. The purpose of the meeting, according to Superintendent Karl Mueller, was to review safety information as it relates to student, parent and staff awareness; this includes procedures, systems, and facilities; the chain of command; threat assessments, preventions and interventions; communication, and the role of the Coronado Police Department.
“The physical and emotional safety of our children is our top priority,” said Mueller. “We will never become complacent as it relates to systems and procedures that help us prioritize the health of the staff and the students while they are in our care.”
Mueller shared that, according to a study conducted by the Secret Service and Department of Education, 93% of school shooters planned the attack in advance. In addition, in four out of five school shootings, at least one other person had knowledge of the attacker’s plan, but failed to report it.
Mueller emphasized how important connections are when it comes to the reporting mechanisms in stopping school shootings.
“If teachers have an understanding of the students in their care, they start to recognize the warning signs and signals that may be out of place,” said Mueller. “There’s a shift in behavior, there’s a shift in attitude, in peer groups. We need our peers to feel safe and connected to schools. If a peer notices something about one of their friends, they need to feel comfortable bringing that information to a trusted adult.”
Mueller shared a slide that listed the warning signs in preventing violence, which include withdrawing from friends, bullying and excessive irritability. Other signs include social isolation, thoughts of harming themselves or someone else, direct threats and bragging about access to guns and weapons.
Marshall Redding, CUSD Technology Department Assistant, described the existing safety procedures to help keep students and staff safe. These include the presence of a school resource officer, on site campus security, as well as annual lockdown, fire and earthquake drills. In addition, the district conducts an annual review of site emergency and preparedness plans with the Coronado Police Department.
Redding said that parents and visitors are required to check in and out of school sites where their information is cross checked with Megan’s Law database, which provides information on registered sex offenders. The district has also overseen the installation of lock blocks, which make it easier for staff members to lock their classroom doors in case of a lockdown, new security cameras, and window tints.
Director of Student Services, Niamh Foley, shared that CUSD offers counseling resources with a focus on the emotional safety of students to help prevent school violence. The district employs more than 12 counselors, including Educationally Related Mental Health Services Counselors for students who struggle with social/emotional and behavioral issues, clinical counselors, school psychologists and guidance counselors. In addition, there are four additional Military Family Life counselors.
Foley said that these are the individuals who are responsible for conducting threat assessments, often with the support of site administration and the Coronado Police Department. The threat assessment, explained Foley, is the tool used to assess the level of self-harm, suicidal ideation, and/or other violence. The goals of conducting a threat assessment, according to Foley, are to increase the knowledge of at-risk indicators, provide strategies to increase and reinforce resiliency factors and to provide a standardized referral protocol including cooperation and collaboration with outside agencies.
When it comes to parents and guardian considerations, these individuals are asked to discuss safety with students and also to encourage vigilance. While Lightspeed, the district tech system, actively monitors school devices for concerns, there is more that can be done at home. If parents or students see any signs of violence, potential threats or mental health concerns on social media or on personal devices, they are asked to report via We Tip.
In the case that a dangerous situation impacts schools, parents are encouraged to keep an eye out for district texts, emails, website, and Facebook. After an initial emergency notification, there will be updates every 15 minutes, whether there is new information or not. Parents are encouraged to NOT call the school, as the district will want to keep lines open. The Coronado Police Department will take command and create an Emergency Operations Center which will also serve as a communication center.
Coronado Police Chief Chuck Kaye was at the forum to share information as it relates to law enforcement. Kaye said that police officers are required to walk every single school campus in the city in order to gain familiarity with different school sites in case of an emergency. And if school violence does occur, Kaye says the CPD is totally equipped to handle the situation.
“Everything that you would expect that you need, and that we need to have, we have it,” said Chief Kaye. “We have the ability to get in, get on, and get through any obstacles on the school campuses.”
Kaye said that, as always, the Coronado Police Department will respond to and thoroughly investigate any threat or risk of violence to a school or a student at school.
Coronado Unified School District (CUSD) offers WeTip anonymous reporting for incidents concerning any aspect of school. Students, parents, friends, or community members can report bullying, harassment, vandalism, discrimination, racism, abuse, misconduct, or threats while ensuring anonymity.
There are three ways to submit an anonymous report:
- Text REPORT to 844-619-0039
- Call 844-619-0039
- Online at https://mobile.catapultems.com/coronado-usd/chs/Report