Keeping Schools Safe
Safety of students and staff is a top priority of all San Juan Unified schools. With recent tragedies in Parkland, FL and elsewhere it’s important to know what is done to help keep our schools safe and focused on learning. Our safety strategy relies on five main tactics:
San Juan Unified has been fortunate to operate its Safe Schools program in partnership with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department and Citrus Heights Police Department for decades. The program provides uniformed officers who patrol and respond to incidents or concerns at school campuses during the school day, including during after-school programs.
There are five Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputies scheduled to patrol zones of the district located in the county and two School Resource Officers provided by the Citrus Heights Police Department to support schools within the city’s limits. The district employs two dispatchers to coordinate activities, as well as a field operations coordinator and a safety manager who both have a strong background in law enforcement. The Safe Schools team, with their local partners, also engage with federal and state law enforcement officials on a regular basis.
Each school updates their safety plan on an annual basis. That plan is reviewed by staff, parent representatives, a law enforcement official and Safe Schools staff. Schools then implement their plans, including safety drills. Schools also employ campus monitors or other similar positions that assist in providing student supervision and implementing safety practices.
The district maintains a district safety plan that is put into action during a critical incident. The safety plan helps allocate support resources and ensure coordination with first responders.
Identifying and intervening before a violent incident can occur is critical. We encourage students, families, community and staff to report any concerning behaviors to a trusted school or law enforcement official immediately. Our Safe Schools team is trained to identify potential danger signs and works to provide training to district staff to be able to do the same.
HOW YOU CAN HELP: Work with your student to ensure they’re mindful of conversations they have in person and on social media. Ask them not to participate in any group chat that discusses any act of violence against any person or any school. Make sure they know to report any concerns to a trusted adult immediately or through our online Tell Someone reporting process.
When a concern is identified, school site and Safe Schools staff work with law enforcement to investigate. The investigative steps undertaken depend on the concerns raised and evidence presented but may include interviews, home visits to check for access to weapons and a review of past history. Depending on the findings of the investigation, we may seek law enforcement action to be taken, we may issue disciplinary consequences and we may connect individuals with additional resources including mental health services.
In the case of an act of violence taking place on campus, an immediate lockdown is called. Often, lockdowns or shelter-in-place are used as precautionary steps if there is even the potential for a violent incident on a campus. 9-1-1 is notified and our Safe Schools office deploys our officers as well as additional district staff.
HOW YOU CAN HELP: Please review with your student(s) the difference between a lockdown and a shelter-in-place. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your role in an emergency situation.
5. Review and Reflection
After any incident on a school campus or major incident in the nation, the Safe Schools team, other staff and law enforcement partners will meet to review what occurred, how it was responded to and what we can learn to improve our own practices.
For example, in light of recent incidents, staff are looking to enhance active shooter training and ensure every school staff member has an opportunity to take part, review and enhance our lockdown drills with students and making sure they take place on a timely basis each year.