Tragedy Strikes Again – Do our schools need to invest in better security?
By Mona Graham, School Districts Committee Member
The safety of our children is certainly a high priority for parents and community members. The need to protect them while at school runs the gamut from bullying, sexualization, indoctrination to a political agenda, lack of parental rights to protect their health e.g. gender affirmation and abortion on demand, and finally that of physical harm from acts of violence – especially from an active shooter on campus. The latter is the focus of this communication.
The very recent active shooter at a Christian school in Nashville, who tragically killed three children and three adults, before she herself was gunned down, has once again focused the nation’s eyes on school safety. While heroic once they were on the scene, responders took a full fourteen minutes to arrive. SacCountyGOP commends the quick action of law enforcement who bravely confronted the shooter in Nashville, and we have the families of those lost in our prayers.
Had there been a School Resource Officer (SRO) on campus, the outcome could have been different.
School Resource Officers (SROs) are not security guards – they are trained police officers, many of whom carry a firearm. They have the ability to make arrests, and to use force when warranted. They can also affect positive relationships with the children toward law enforcement. Much of the security we have in our Sacramento County Public Schools is that of following California’s Department of Education “Comprehensive School Safety Plans”. Each school is required to fill out and submit by March 1 of each year a check list showing compliance. You can read the plan here https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ss/vp/cssp.asp
As you can surmise, the plan is an A-to-Z checklist of what presents a security threat. In the case of an active shooter, the schools are eventually led to National resources. These are packed with training videos and handouts. Essentially, they are trained to respond with three actions: 1) Run, 2) Hide, and 3) Fight (as a last resort). Fighting includes such woeful suggestions as using anything you can get your hands on such as a chair or fire extinguisher.
We’ve now elected and re-elected some hard-hitting school board members who, we believe, will fight the good fight for our families and children. The platforms many of them ran on are extremely important to our children’s future, and the future of families and family rights. Some of those battles will be viewed as readily achievable, and others could be uphill battles for the freshmen trustees.
The battle of financing SROs will be one of their hurdles. Best practice scenarios for hiring SROs are to engage with either the local police department, or, in the case of the unincorporated areas, the county sheriff. The annual cost to the school per SRO, per year runs between $120,000 to $150,000. This money comes from the school district budget, not the police or sheriff budget. This financing hurdle, alone, stops many well-meaning trustees in their tracks. But it shouldn’t! The safety of our children should not die on a financial sword.
There are moneys that a good grant writer can apply for that “could” offset that cost. One such example is a grant that was recently awarded to the Roseville Joint Union High School District. It’s from The Bureau of Justice Assistance under the US Department of Justice. The STOP School Violence Act. Here is a link to the available funding page – https://bja.ojp.gov/program/stop-school-violence-program/funding#available-funding Of note, the bureau has many other grants. This is only one example.
What can you do?
- Sign up for our School Board District Action Alerts – We read school board agendas, and when issues that we identify as being of interest to parents come up, such as SRO programs, we will send an email to all who have registered for alerts.
- Write to each Trustee expressing your support for SROs and ask for their vote.
- Attend the School Board Meeting in person and testify.
For some additional background… below is the California Department of Education’s answer to an active shooter:
Best Practice Considerations for Armed Assailant Drills (PDF)
National Association of School Psychologists and National Association of School Resource Officers: Best Practice Considerations for Schools in Active Shooter and Other Armed Assailant Drills
Responding to an Active Shooter
Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools, Technical Assistance Center of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Safe and Healthy Students: Active Shooter Situations: Responding to an Active Shooter Situation
Active Shooter Preparedness
US Department of Homeland Security Active Shooter Preparedness
School Emergency Planning & Safety including Resources for Administrators & Classrooms
California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services provides direct and easy access to pertinent emergency preparedness information and resources as they relate to schools throughout California and the nation.
Each school district is required to create an emergency response plan. Ask your local district for a copy of their plan. You can find all Sacramento Area districts listed on our School Districts page.