In light of recent threats made to several William S. Hart Union High School District campuses, the Hart district released a message to its school community informing them of the district’s security procedures and policies.
Released by the superintendent’s office this week, the document describes the district’s campus security measures, lockdown protocols, school safety plans, ongoing emergency drills and threat assessment team.
It also provides information about the district’s mental health professionals, Text-a-Tip program and partnership with law enforcement and community resources.
“We recognize that our students’ families have entrusted us to assist them in the education of their children,” the message read. “This sacred responsibility starts with the obligation to ensure students and staff feel physically and emotionally safe on campus.”
Each Hart district school is staffed with a School Resource Officer who works to form relationships with students, provide intervention with students and assist staff with difficult situations.
Each campus is also staffed with a team of campus supervisors and fenced with gates that remain locked during instructional time and unlock when students leave for lunch or at the end of the school day.
“All of our safety protocols have been developed in collaboration with the SCV Sheriff’s Department,” the message read.
The schools also maintain their own safety plans—developed with multiple stakeholders and updated annually—that details the policies for dealing with potential issues at their school sites. Details of these plans are not published in order to protect the security of each campus, according got the district.
To prepare students for emergency situations, each school schedules a minimum of two lockdown drills each year in addition to two annual fire drills and one annual earthquake drill.
“We ask that families continue to work with us to educate our students on the need to take safety drills seriously and to apply the knowledge gained at school to all locations,” the message read. “We teach students to run from danger, hide if running is not an option and fight as a last resort.”
In the event of a lock down, students and staff are required to remain inside school facilities until the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station investigates the real or perceived threats to the campus.
“While the term ‘lock down’ may sound alarming, it’s important to note that these scenarios often turn out to be unsubstantiated rumors that go viral on social media. Sometimes young people make inappropriate comments without fully understanding how seriously these remarks will be handled,” the message read. “In an abundance of caution, all such threats are fully investigated.”
To encourage students to “see something, say something,” the Hart district has a Text-a-Tip line specific to each school site so students con confidentially report suspicious activity to law enforcement and school administration.
“Maintaining a trusting and ‘inclusive’ school culture is important to creating an atmosphere where students are willing to speak out when they see, hear or feel that something is wrong,” the message read.
The Hart district also has almost 1,500 student Safe School Ambassadors at every school site who are trained to work with their peers to prevent bullying, exclusion, teasing and violence on campus.
Throughout the Hart district, there is also a team of licensed therapists to provide counseling services that help “diffuse aggression, address isolation and attend to mental health needs of students and families.”
These therapists are assigned to each school and support the work of school psychologists and school counselors.
When a student does pose a threat to themselves or to others, they are assessed by the District Threat Assessment Team who follow resources and protocol from the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education.
This team determines what resources to provide to an at-risk individual and may involve the Department of Mental Health’s School Threat Assessment and Response Team, which tracks individuals throughout their lives and provides them with needed services.
“With the increased use of social media, the schools have experienced an increase in the number of threat assessments conducted annually,” the message read. “All threats are taken seriously and fully investigated by the school administration and law enforcement.”
Credible threats will result in an arrest and not credible threats will still be assessed by the District Threat Assessment Team.
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