In an effort to improve school safety and reduce campus shootings throughout the state, Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares has introduced the Saugus Strong Act — a way to improve reporting systems for students.
Under the Saugus Strong Act, known formally as Assembly Bill 312, a 24/7 crisis center would be created and staffed by trained counselors who can receive and appropriately respond to incoming reports from any school district in the state.
Currently, the William S. Hart Union High School District has the student care line, which functions similarly to the proposed system. However, this program, according to the bill, would be fully covered by the state and has “been proven to prevent school shootings” in other states, officials said.
“Under the bill, students, parents, or community members could anonymously report concerning behavior, threats, or potential violence on campus to this crisis center,” reads a fact sheet about the bill distributed by Valladares’ office. Counselors would then send credible reports to school administrators and, depending on the severity of the report, law enforcement.
The former version of AB 312 had been authored by Assemblyman Kelly Seyarto and dealt with teacher credentialing. However, a “gut and amend” was conducted due to State Senate deadlines, and Valladares, R-Santa Clarita, was able to change the bill to the Saugus Strong Act.
“To address the concerning rise in violence on school campuses, multiple states have followed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s school safety recommendations by implementing statewide anonymous reporting programs and threat assessment programs,” reads AB 312’s fact sheet. “Unfortunately, only a few school districts in California offer similar evidence-based anonymous reporting programs and threat assessment systems that provide students with safer school environments.”
Additionally, the bill will provide school districts with the necessary training to ensure that students, parents and faculty are able to use the anonymous reporting program and better identify concerning behavior and activity on campus.
“This ensures that each school district will have the tools and training necessary to respond appropriately to any identified threat,” the fact sheet reads. “The bill uses no Prop. 98 funds, and instead creates a new category to be appropriated funds through the General Fund.”