Following threats made to various schools throughout the Santa Clarita Valley this month, Saugus Union School District Superintendent Joan Lucid released a message to its school community informing them of the district’s focus on school safety and security.
“School safety is a priority for our schools and these past few weeks have highlighted that importance,” Lucid wrote in the message. “I want to share what we do in our schools when we receive information that threatens the safety of our students or staff as well as what we can do to make our schools safer.”
Released to the public Thursday, the letter to parents and guardians appeared in English and Spanish and detailed the district’s ongoing security and facility updates, partnerships with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, protocols for communication during the time of an emergency and behaviors from all aspects of the district’s community to create safe school environments.
“Nothing is more essential than the safety of our children in Saugus Union Schools,” Lucid wrote. “Excellence in elementary education is important and a safe environment imperative for learning to occur. This means physical safety as well as mental and emotional safety.”
In terms of physical safety, the district is currently implementing electronic door systems at all of the district’s sites. The project is supported by Measure EE and is expected to be completed by the end of the school year, according to the letter.
The district has also identified single points of entry at each site and is working on renovations at school sites, following the state approvals of these projects.
This spring, the Saugus district is also installing a new Visitor Management System that will require all volunteers and visitors to sign in electronically before they receive a badge with a picture and a notation to where they will be going on campus.
Each school site also partners with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station to provide access to School Resource Officers when needed and to conduct emergency drills.
“Currently, the deputies are conducting on-demand lockdown drills and providing our sites with feedback to affirm and improve our safety drills,” Lucid wrote. “This partnership with the Sheriff’s provides one more layer of security of our sites.”
During these drills, teachers make sure protocols are understood and followed, according to the letter. Teachers also talk to and listen to children about safety concerns and follow up with students’ parents or guardians when necessary.
When a threat does occur on campus, administrators, who are trained in school safety protocols, investigate the nature of the comments based on the age of the student. Consequences are then determined based on the student’s age and the circumstances, according to Lucid.
During this time, administrators also work in teams to determine the best way to communicate with parents and the best way to inform parents, without causing “unnecessary fear” or sharing personal student information.
When potential threats do occur, the district is asking parents and guardians not to share information online or on social media, unless they are certain information is accurate.
“You, as parents and guardians, are part of the most effective resources we have for helping your children be safe at school,” Lucid wrote. “These resources include strong two-way communication; reporting any threat of harm toward students to the school, law enforcement or both; and using reasonable protocols together to create an environment that reassures our students that they are safe to learn.”
The letter also detailed the different behaviors and roles administrators and school staff, parents and guardians, and students should follow to create safe school environments.
For district staff, the letter encouraged them to listen to students and parents when a threat is reported, thoroughly investigate each threat, communicate with the SCV Sheriff’s Station and with parents, provide consequences to those who make threats, honor students who create safe schools and educate students on what inappropriate remarks are.
The letter encouraged parents and guardians to remind students that they have a right to a safe school, to listen to children’s comments, to monitor social media posts, to remind students to “see something, say something” and to report any unsafe actions to school administrators and the Sheriff’s Station.
Lucid also addressed the students in her letter, telling them to share any concerns with parents or staff, that they will be held accountable if they say something that “causes others to be afraid” and that posts on social media are taken seriously and can resurface even if they are deleted.
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