School safety message from Board of Education member Mark Powell

Guest Commentary / Our Readers Write:

As La Jolla 's elected member on the San Diego County Office of Education Board (and a past-president of the La Jolla Sunrise Rotary), I'd like to provide you with information on the support services the County Board of Education provides our schools. I am not up for re-election!

The Office of Education supports nearly 780 schools and more than 500,000 students — including the nearly 10,000 children we educate each year through our Juvenile Court and Community Schools. We also provide a variety of services for the 42 school districts, 124 charter schools, and five community college districts in the County.

In the wake of last month's arrest of a teenager suspected in two indecent exposure cases near Standley Middle School in University City, numerous questions have been raised about school safety, particularly on what education agencies are doing to keep students safe and how they notify parents and the community when there is a threat.

Schools remain among the safest places for students and as your board of education member (and parent of students who attend public school), I want to keep it that way. Safety takes many forms and it's important for schools to be prepared for a variety of situations.

The Office of Education provides numerous safety-related supports and training opportunities for the region's school districts, including workshops, technical assistance, and direct services on developing and supporting comprehensive school safety plans; options-based responses in active-shooter situations, threat assessment and mental health crisis intervention.

Schools are required by law to have a Comprehensive School Safety Plan, which is developed by a school's site council or safety committee. When advising on safety plans, the Office of Education encourages schools to consider whether adequate emergency response procedures are in place, or whether there are places on campus where students don't feel safe.

Asking such questions can yield strategies about where improved supervision or other kinds of assistance to students is needed.

While threat-assessment training is not required in Comprehensive School Safety Plans, it's recommended and offered by the Office of Education. Recommended participants include school administrators, psychologists, counselors, social workers and school police officers. The training reviews a practical, site-based team approach for conducting thorough, accurate assessments of students' threats of violence.

Trainings related to school safety issues are scheduled throughout the year at Office of Education sites. School districts may also arrange to have the workshops conducted at their own sites.

If you have any questions, you can call/text me at (858) 922-7725 or send an e-mail to markpowellhomes@hotmail.com

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