Southland education officials continued to offer reassurances Thursday about the safety of school campuses and the need for vigilance in light of the mass shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead.
“It is crucial that the members of our entire learning community proactively work together to create a safe school environment,” Duarte Unified School District Superintendent Allan J. Mucerino said in a message to parents and staff. “Please help us reinforce what we teach our students, if you see something say something. Here at Duarte Unified, we will continue to make campus safety and our children’s welfare our main priority.”
Wednesday afternoon’s shooting occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. A former student, Nikolas Cruz, was arrested a short time later for allegedly carrying out the shooting.
Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education President Monica Garcia and Interim Superintendent Vivian Ekchian issued a joint statement Wednesday expressing shock at the violence, but also seeking to comfort parents of Los Angeles students.
“We also want to assure all parents, students and staff that safety remains the top priority of L.A. Unified,” they said. “We continue to work with the Los Angeles School Police Department, along with public safety and mental health agencies, to ensure planning preparation and response to incidents that may affect safety.
“In addition, we encourage everyone in our district to remain vigilant in working together to keep our schools safe. If you see something, say something.”
Kirsten Vital, superintendent of the Capistrano Unified School District in Orange County, sent a message to the community stressing that safety plans have been crafted for each school campus, and those plans are reviewed annually.
“In the area of training, we conduct ongoing drills and simulated emergency exercises for our staff and this training is reviewed and modified as needed,” she said. “We also train our staff to speak up and report suspicious activity they see at our school sites or offices.”
Vital also said the district works closely with the sheriff’s department and the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center, an intelligence-sharing network “that collects, analyzes and disseminates information on all criminal risks and safety threats” to law enforcement.
“Please talk to your child/children to remind them that they, too, can report anything suspicious,” Vital said. “We want everyone on our campuses to be empowered to speak up about anything that looks out of place.”
–City News Service
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