STOCKTON, Calif. — In a new report, San Joaquin County’s Civil Grand Jury says more can and should be done to keep students safe.
The 26-page report released Monday gave 25 recommendations for each of the county’s 14 school districts and one recommendation for eight local law enforcement agencies.
Recommendations for the school districts ranged from updating and getting more input on state-required school site safety plans to having more robust drills and frequent trainings.
The sole recommendation the grand jury gave to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office and the Escalon, Lathrop, Lodi, Manteca, Ripon, Stockton and Tracy Police Departments was to “meaningfully collaborate and approve” updated safety plans for each school site within their jurisdiction.
Jurors noted one of the best forms of violence prevention and emergency preparedness involves the school’s culture.
“The emphasis on physical security measures has created a failure to focus on human factors and the fundamentals of school security and culture,” the report said.
As part of the investigation, jurors visited one school site from each of the districts. In addition to scrutinizing those schools’ safety plans and levels of preparedness, the jurors also analyzed the culture and sense of school pride.
“A school safety culture is encouraged by involving parents/guardians, students, teachers, administrators, and other school personnel in a school’s safety planning process,” the report said. “It also is encouraged by creating an overall positive climate at the school.”
Some recurring issues jurors found in the districts included limited mentions of the needs of disabled students during emergencies, safety plans not specific to each school site, a lack of training for individuals responsible for emergency incident command roles, a lack of diversity on the times and dates schools held emergency drills, inconsistent visitor sign-in processes and a lack of training for substitute teachers.
All of the school districts and agencies investigated are required to give the court a response to the report within 90 days. Each of the grand jury’s recommendations came with different deadlines.
Jurors say they first began investigating the districts after several school shootings across the nation, the deadly-on campus stabbing of Alycia Reynaga at Stagg High School, and threats of violence targeting county schools.
The districts included the San Joaquin Office of Education, Banta Unified School District, Escalon Unified School District, Jefferson School District, Lammersville Unified School District, Lincoln Unified School District, Linden Unified School District, Lodi Unified School District, Manteca Unified School District, New Hope Elementary School District, New Jerusalem School District, Oak View Elementary School District, Ripon Unified School District and Stockton Unified School District.
In the report, jurors commended four of the districts. According to jurors, Lincoln Unified had the best visitor sign-in procedures by using the Raptor system to issue visitor badges and collect them before visitors leave campus.
Meanwhile, jurors found Banta Unified had the best physical barrier system. Their visitor check-in process includes being buzzed through a half-door to a waiting area where identification is checked and a sign-in form is completed before being buzzed into the main office.
The New Hope Elementary School District was commended for its magnetic window covers with emergency procedures printed onto them.
Jurors also recognized Jefferson Unified for creatively using long roller shades to block windows and a magnet to allow classroom doors to be open while still locked.
“School districts in San Joaquin County have taken important steps to make schools safer, but more can and should be done to reduce safety threats,” the report said. “While no one can predict an emergency, proper training, drills, plans, and creating a positive school culture, including a strong safety culture, can best mitigate tragic outcomes from those emergencies.”
Watch more from ABC10: Consultant finds Stockton Unified safety plans out of legal compliance
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